With prices for both petroleum and non-petroleum imports running lower last month than they had in January, the U.S. import price index compiled by the U.S. Labor Department fell in February. The decline was half a percentage point, right in line with what economists generally had expected, and was in sharp contrast to a 1.7% increase in January.
"In contrast to the first three quarters of 2005, petroleum prices declined in four of the past five months, the exception being a 6.9% increase in January," the department noted when it released the latest price data on March 15. "Despite the recent trend, petroleum prices rose 40.8% over the past year," the department also noted.
The department's index of U.S. export prices was unchanged in February, following a seven-tenths percent increase in January.