WASHINGTON — U.S. import prices rose 1.1% in February, after increasing 0.6% the prior month, led by higher fuel prices, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.

The increase in the February import price index was the largest since it rose 1.2% in August last year.

Fuel prices were up 4.9%, while the nonfuel import price index saw no change. Within the fuel price increase, petroleum import prices jumped 5.2%, but natural gas prices fell 2.3%.

Despite the February increase, import fuel prices fell 0.6% over the past year, as a 29.7% rise in natural gas prices failed to negate a 1.4% drop in petroleum prices.

Excluding food and fuels, import prices are unchanged in February compared to a 0.1% increase in January.

Within non-fuel import prices, higher prices for nonfuel industrial supplies (up 0.1%), foods (up 0.6%), and consumer goods excluding autos (up 0.1%) offset lower prices for capital goods (down 0.1%).

Total import prices were down 0.3% over the last 12 months, while non-fuel import prices rose 0.3% over that period, the largest jump over a 12-month period since it rose 0.7% in April 2012.

By region, prices for imports from China rose 0.1% in February, while prices of imports from Canada rose 1.5% — the largest monthly increase since September 2012. Import prices from the European Union rose by 0.7% in February.

Likely reflecting the recent drop in the value of the yen, prices of imports from Japan fell 0.4% last month, the largest monthly decline since September 2008.

Total export prices rose 0.8% in February, as agricultural export prices were up 2.0% and export prices excluding agriculture rose 0.6%

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

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