WASHINGTON – U.S. import prices rose by 0.4% in December on a 7.3% spike in fuel prices, while import prices were down 0.2% excluding petroleum and down 0.2% excluding fuels.

The December gain put overall import prices 1.8% above their year-ago level, but prices excluding fuels were still 0.1% below December 2015. The data are a further sign that underlying inflation is not being imported into the U.S.

There was a 0.8% gain in the prices of industrial supplies outside of fuels, but that increase was offset by declines in the prices of foods and feeds, capital goods, autos, and consumer goods.

Total petroleum prices rose by 7.9%, while the relatively small natural gas price category rose 2.2%.

Excluding the spike in fuel prices and the decline in foods and feeds prices, import prices were down 0.1%. The year/year rate of decline for this category was 0.4%, showing an absence of inflation.

By region, prices for imports from China and from Japan were both flat in December, while prices of imports from Canada rose 2.3%, prices from Mexico rose 0.3%, and import prices from the European Union were down 0.2%.

Total export prices rose 0.3% in December, as agricultural export prices fell 0.3%, but export prices excluding agriculture were up 0.4%. Total export prices were up 1.1% year/year, while nonagricultural prices were up 1.3% year/year.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.