The import-price index climbed 0.7 percent, the first increase in four months and followed a 0.5 percent drop in October, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists projected the gauge would increase 1 percent, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Prices excluding fuel decreased 0.2 percent for a second month, the first back-to-back drop in more than a year.
Oil prices may have reached a plateau this month, indicating increases in the cost of imported goods may moderate as slowing growth from Europe to Asia and a strengthening dollar hold down prices. Federal Reserve policy makers yesterday said they expected inflation to slow and reiterated their pledge to hold the benchmark rate “exceptionally low” at least through mid-2013.
The below chart outlines the longer term trend in imported inflation. Over the past three months, the price of imported goods (excluding petroleum) has declined for only the third time since 2005 (six month figure is now flat), while the twelve month change is turning lower (below 4%) after it peaked at over 5% as recently as September.