Oil Again Leads Rise In U.S. Import Prices

By John S. McClenahen Rising petroleum prices pushed the U.S. Import Price Index up 1.3% in February, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which compiles the index. February's increase, however, was smaller than the 1.6% rise in January. Not counting petroleum, the import price measure rose 0.4% last month, a bit higher than January's 0.3% increase. Prices of imported petroleum rose 8.2% in February, after increasing 13.3% in January, and are at their highest level since BLS began tracking import prices in 1982. U.S. export prices in February increased 0.4% for the second consecutive month as rising prices for industrial supplies and other nonagricultural items exceeded falling prices for vegetables, soybeans and other agricultural items. Prices for U.S. capital goods exports rose 0.2% for the second straight month in February. Although energy analysts at UBS Warburg LLC, New York, expect "some relief" in the price of imported oil "as the war ends and spring finally arrives," Maury Harris, the firm's chief U.S. economist, notes that prices of non-oil imports are slowly moving higher. "The implication is that U.S. manufacturers are getting a little relief from foreign competitors."

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