FRANKFURT (AP) -- German import prices marked their biggest decline in a decade in January, falling 5.4 percent from the same month a year earlier due mostly to cheaper fuel, the Federal Statistical Office said Friday.
The Wiesbaden-based office said the fall in the January index of import prices was the sharpest since February 1999, while the index of export prices decreased 0.9 percent over the year.
Economists expect lower prices to be good for consumer spending, as they trickle through the real economy and provide households with more disposable income.
The office said that while the overall index of energy prices fell, individual fuels showed varying trends in January. The price of crude oil sank 46 percent compared with a year ago, while the price of oil products, like gasoline and diesel fuel, fell 40 percent. Compared with December 2008, however, prices on these fuels increased, suggesting an upswing in demand.
Meanwhile, natural gas prices rose 28 percent from a year earlier, but fell nearly 8 percent compared with December.
Excluding crude oil and oil products, import prices were 0.3 percent below the level of a year earlier.
The price of metals and ores also showed varying trends, the statistics office said.
Non-iron metal ore prices dropped 36 percent from a year earlier, while the price of iron ore increased 66 percent. The price of finished nickel and copper also rose.
Food prices fell, with the cost of wheat down 35 percent, and milk and milk product prices down 15 percent, the statistical office said.