WASHINGTON - U.S. prices for imported goods plunged 2.7% in June, as the price of both fuels and non-fuel items declined in the month, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The drop in total import prices was the largest since a 4.6% decline in December 2008.

Total fuel import prices, which include petroleum as well as natural gas, fell 10.1% in the month. Petroleum prices were down 10.5%, but natural gas import prices rose 7.4%.

Import prices saw widespread declines among the nonfuel categories, with a 1.3% drop in non-fuel industrial supplies and a 1.0% decline in food import prices.

In addition, import prices of capital goods fell 0.2%, prices of autos and related goods fell 0.1%, and consumer goods prices fell 0.1%.

Total import prices excluding both food and fuels were down 0.3% in the month after a 0.1% decline in May.

Total import prices were down 2.6% year/year in June. Non-petroleum import prices were down 0.2% year/year, but prices excluding fuels were up 0.6% year/year. Excluding both foods and fuels, import prices posted a 0.8% year/year increase.

Within the energy category, fuel prices were down 12.0% year/year, while petroleum prices were down 10.7% over that period. Import prices for natural gas plummeted over the last year, down 44.7% despite the June increase, as domestic supply has remained very high compared to the comparable period a year earlier.

Total export prices fell 1.7% in June. Agricultural export prices down 4.0% in the month and were down 6.1% from a year earlier.

Export prices for non-agricultural products were down 0.7% in June on declines in the prices of every component except a modest 0.2% rise in the exports of non-auto consumer goods. This included a 3.9% decline in the export price of industrial supplies, the largest drop for that category since December 2008.

Total export prices fell 2.1% year/year. Non-agricultural export prices were down 1.6% over the last 12 months.

The country data were generally lower, though the price of imports from China was flat, while the price of imports from Japan rose 0.1%. The price of imports from the EU fell 0.7%, while closer to home, the price of imports from Canada plunged 2.9% and the price of imports from Mexico fell 2.2%, both the largest respective declines since November 2008.

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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