US March import price rise biggest in over 1-1/2 yrs

WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) – U.S. import prices rose
more than expected in March to post their largest increase in
more than 1-1/2 years, driven by a surge in imported petroleum
costs and higher food prices, a government report showed on
Tuesday.

Overall import prices jumped 2.7 percent, a sixth straight
month of gains, the Labor Department said. The increase
outstripped economists’ forecasts for a 2.2 percent increase
and followed a 1.4 percent rise in February.

But excluding volatile petroleum and food prices, import
prices were up only a fractional 0.3 percent after rising 0.6
percent the prior month. In the 12 months to March, overall
import prices surged 9.7 percent, the largest increase since
April.

The monthly rise in import prices reflected a 10.5 percent
surge in petroleum, the biggest increase since June 2009, which
followed a rise of 4.0 percent in February. Imported food
prices increased 4.2 percent, the largest advance since July
1994, after rising 0.7 percent in February.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

US March import price rise biggest in over 1-1/2 yrs