US import prices rose 0.1% in Sept vs. 0.2% increase expected

Containers at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California.
Tim Rue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. import prices rose in September as the cost of petroleum and a range of other goods increased, suggesting import deflation was starting to ebb.

The Labor Department said on Thursday import prices gained 0.1 percent last month after an unrevised 0.2 percent decline in August. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.2 percent last month.

In the 12 months through September, import prices fell 1.1 percent, the smallest decrease since August 2014, after declining 2.2 percent in August. A strong dollar has resulted in the country importing deflation, helping to hold inflation persistently below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target.

But with the dollar's rally gradually fading and oil prices continuing to stabilize, some of the deflationary pressures from overseas should start to ease and allow inflation to gradually rise toward its target.

Last month, imported petroleum prices increased 1.2 percent after decreasing 3.0 percent in August. Import prices excluding petroleum were unchanged for a second straight month. The cost of imported food increased 0.6 percent.

Prices for imported capital goods edged up 0.1 percent, rising for the first time since June 2014, while the cost of imported automobiles increased 0.2 percent. Imported consumer goods prices excluding automobiles were unchanged last month.

The report also showed export prices rose 0.3 percent in September after falling 0.8 percent in August. Export prices were down 1.5 percent from a year ago. That was the smallest decline since October 2014.