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In January, U.S. import prices increased by 0.3 percent after falling 0.1 percent in December. January marks only the third increase in import prices since June of 2011. The main driver behind January’s increase was a 1.2 percent jump in petroleum prices which had previously been trending downward, decreasing in four of the past five months. On a year-over-year basis, import prices were up only 7.1 percent after posting double-digit gains from March until November of last year. Nonpetroleum import prices remained unchanged in January after ticking up 0.1 percent in December. On a year-over-year basis, nonpetroleum import prices were up 2.5 percent, a deceleration from December’s 3.4 percent. Downward trends in both import prices and petroleum prices, accompanied by modest changes in nonpetroleum prices, indicate a low potential for foreign prices to cause an increase in domestic price levels in the coming months.
Export prices rose by 0.2 percent after declining 0.5 percent in December. Increases in agricultural prices of 2.5 percent (—2.5 percent, previously) were a main driver behind the drop. Nonagricultural prices were unchanged after decreasing throughout the fourth quarter. Year-over-year, exports posted gains of 2.5 percent, the smallest yearly increase since November 2009.