U.S. April Import Prices Rise 2.1%: Prices for Industrial Supplies Up 0.5%

Prices of goods from China fell 0.1% and from Japan declined 0.2%

As reported by Bloomberg.com

Prices of goods imported into the U.S. rose the most in seven months in April, reflecting surging costs of oil and metals, a government report showed today.

Import prices rose 2.1% after falling 0.2% the month before, the Labor Department said in Washington. Excluding petroleum, prices were unchanged. Prices excluding all fuels rose 0.1%.

Federal Reserve policy makers, who raised interest rates for the 16th time this week, are watching for signs that higher energy prices are spreading to other goods. The Fed, while saying inflation expectations are ``well contained,'' left the door open to further rate increases.

``The price numbers are not as bad as the headline number implies,'' said David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York. ``Certainly, there is no compelling evidence here that we're seeing significant upward pressures on import prices outside the energy and commodities bloc.''

The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in March for a second month as companies sent more commodities and business equipment overseas, a Commerce Department report showed today.

The deficit trade shrank to $62 billion, the smallest since August, from February's $65.6 billion. Imports declined 0.8% to $176.7 billion in March, and exports rose 1.9% to a record $114.7 billion.

Imports account for about 14% of all goods and services purchased in the U.S.

From a year earlier, prices of imported goods rose 5.9%, compared with a 4.6% increase in March. Excluding petroleum, prices were up 0.8% in the last 12 months.

The figure for prices other than petroleum includes natural gas, which fell 2% last month after declining 12% in March. From a year earlier, natural gas prices are up 5.5%.

The price of imported petroleum and petroleum products rose 11.5% in April after increasing 0.5% the previous month, today's report showed. Compared with a year earlier, the price of imported petroleum products was up 32.5%.

Industrial Supplies

Prices for industrial supplies excluding petroleum rose 0.5%. The cost of imported capital goods was unchanged for the third straight month. Those prices are down 1.5% from a year earlier.

Prices of unfinished metals related to durable goods rose 2.5% in April. Finished metals increased 1.3%.

Prices of copper, which is used in wiring and pipes, are surging as the world's mines fail to keep up with demand from developing countries including China.

Prices for imported consumer goods excluding autos fell 0.1%. Prices of imported automobiles, parts and engines rose 0.2%, the largest increase since October 2004.

Today's report showed prices of goods from China fell 0.1%. Compared with a year earlier, prices fell 1.1%. Prices of textiles and related items, a major export of China, rose 2.7%.

Prices of goods from Japan declined 0.2%. Products from the European Union increased 0.3%. Canadian goods prices gained 1.2%.

Prices of U.S. products exported to other countries rose 0.6% after rising 0.2%. Prices for farm exports fell 0.6%, while those for non-farm exports increased 0.7%.

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