Led by higher prices for petroleum, the U.S. import price index soared 1.8% in March, its largest increase since January 2003, the U.S. Labor Department reported on April 15.
Prices for imported petroleum rose 10.6% in March and increased 36.1% for the 12 months ending in March. Prices of imported non-petroleum industrial supplies and materials rose in March as did prices for foods, feeds and beverages, the department said.
On the other side of the U.S. trade ledger, export prices rose seven-tenths of a percentage point in March after being flat in February, Prices for both agricultural and non-agricultural exports were up in March. Prices for agricultural exports rose 3.7%, their greatest increase since November 2003. Prices for non-agricultural exports rose four-tenths of a percentage point in March, led by a 1.2% rise in prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials. In contrast, prices for capital goods, which account for about 40% of all U.S. exports, fell a tenth of a percentage point in March.