U.S. import prices rose in December, boosted by higher prices for petroleum products, but a strong dollar kept underlying imported inflation in subdued.
The Labor Department said on Thursday import prices increased 0.4 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.2 percent decline in November.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices advancing 0.7 percent last month after a previously reported 0.3 percent drop. In the 12 months through December, import prices jumped 1.8 percent, the largest gain since March 2012, after edging up 0.1 percent in the 12 months through November.
Import prices are rising as the drag from lower oil prices fades. Oil prices have risen above $50 per barrel. But underlying import prices are likely to remain soft amid sustained dollar strength.