UPS to Hike Rates by 4.9 Percent, Matching FedEx

Package delivery company United Parcel Service said Friday it was raising its prices for 2008 by about 4.9 percent, matching a planned hike by rival FedEx.

UPS said the new rates will take effect Dec. 31. Ground rates will rise by about 4.9 percent, and rates on air express shipments and international deliveries starting in the United States will rise by 6.9 percent, but fuel surcharges on these services will decline by 2 percent.

In October, FedEx said it would raise its 2008 delivery rates by 4.9 percent, a hike that analysts said was its largest increase since 2008.

Both UPS and FedEx are seen as bellwethers of the U.S. economy, based on the premise than in a faster-growing economy, more packages are shipped.

So far this year, UPS shares are down 5 percent, while FedEx shares are off 7 percent. By way of comparison, the Dow Jones transport average index, which includes railroads, airlines and trucking companies, is up 2 percent.