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U.S. Import Prices Fell in August

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09/14/2018 | 08:46am EDT

By Sarah Chaney and Harriet Torry

WASHINGTON-Prices for goods imported into the U.S. declined in August, the Labor Department said Friday. Here are the report's key takeaways:

--Import prices decreased 0.6% in August from the previous month. Unlike other price measures produced by the government, import prices are not seasonally adjusted. August's monthly fall was lower than the 0.3% decline forecast by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

--Last month's fall in import prices marked the largest monthly decline in well over two years.

--Oil prices helped drive down import prices. The cost of petroleum imports fell 3.9% on the month. Excluding petroleum, import prices fell 0.2%.

--From a year earlier, overall import prices were up 3.7%.

--The overall year-over-year gain in import prices was stronger than the 2.7% increase in the consumer-price index in August from a year earlier. Somewhat stronger import prices could suggest additional inflation is in the pipeline. But take this with some caution. Import-price data only reflect the cost of foreign-made goods. More than 60% of U.S. consumer spending is on services, most of which are domestically produced, including shelter, medical care and college education.

--Friday's report showed export prices fell 0.1% in August and were up 3.6% from a year earlier.

Write to Sarah Chaney at sarah.chaney@wsj.com and Harriet Torry at harriet.torry@wsj.com

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