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US import price growth hits 9-month high in December 2019

The prices of imports into the U.S. increased in December 2019 at the fastest monthly pace in nine months due to higher oil prices, the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed.

The import price index rose 0.3% in December 2019, in line with the consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday, following a revised 0.1% uptick in November 2019.

The increase was driven by prices for petroleum and natural gas imports, which rose 2.1% and 19.4%, respectively. Overall, fuel import prices climbed 2.8% month over month.

Excluding fuel, import prices were unchanged on a monthly basis.

Meanwhile, export prices edged down 0.2% in December 2019, after growing by the same percentage in the previous month.

Prices for both agricultural and nonagricultural exports slipped 0.1%, dragging the overall index.

For the full year, overall import prices were up 0.5%, following a 0.9% fall in 2018. Total export prices dropped 0.7% in 2019, the first decline since 2015, when prices slumped 6.6%.