US import prices rise for a third straight month, driven by higher fuel prices

  • U.S. import prices increased for a third straight month in March, driven by higher fuel prices.
  • The underlying trend remained soft, however.
  • Import prices rose 0.6 percent last month, boosted by increases in the costs of fuels and industrial supplies, the Labor Department said.
The Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. Oakland cargo ship is guided into the Port of Oakland by a pair of AmNav tugboats as an engineer tends to mooring lines in Oakland, California.
Tim Rue | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. Oakland cargo ship is guided into the Port of Oakland by a pair of AmNav tugboats as an engineer tends to mooring lines in Oakland, California.

U.S. import prices increased for a third straight month in March, driven by higher fuel prices, but the underlying trend remained soft.

The Labor Department said on Friday import prices rose 0.6 percent last month, boosted by increases in the costs of fuels and industrial supplies. Data for February was revised higher to show import prices rising 1.0 percent, the largest monthly advance since May 2016.

Petroleum prices rose 4.7 percent in March, slowing from February's 9.7 percent gain. Industrial supplies and materials were up 2.7 percent.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.4 percent in March. Excluding petroleum, import prices rose 0.2 percent.

In the 12 months through March, import prices were unchanged after declining on an annual basis in the three prior months.

Export prices rose 0.7 percent in March, after rising by the same margin in February. Economists had expected a 0.2 percent gain.

Export prices rose 0.6 percent on a year-on-year basis in March after rising 0.3 percent in February.