U.S. Markets

U.S. import prices post biggest gain in seven months

FILE PHOTO: An empty dock is seen at the Port of Long Beach, California, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. import prices recorded their biggest increase in seven months in August as the cost of petroleum surged and there were also signs of a pickup in underlying imported inflation.

The Labor Department said on Tuesday that import prices jumped 0.6 percent last month, the biggest gain since January, after a downwardly revised 0.1 percent dip in July.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices increasing 0.4 percent in August after a previously reported 0.1 percent gain in July.

In the 12 months through August, import prices surged 2.1

percent after rising 1.2 percent in July. The year-on-year increase in import prices has slowed sharply since posting 4.7 percent in February, which was the biggest advance in five years.

Last month, prices for imported petroleum raced 4.8 percent after slipping 0.4 percent in July. Import prices excluding petroleum rose 0.3 percent after dipping 0.1 percent the prior month. Import prices excluding petroleum increased 1.0 percent in the 12 months through August.

Import prices outside petroleum are rising as the dollar’s rally fades. The dollar has weakened 8.3 percent against the currencies of the United States’ main trading partners this year.

The report also showed export prices rose 0.6 percent in

August after gaining 0.5 percent in July. They increased 2.3 percent year-on-year after rising 0.9 percent in August.

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci