WASHINGTON -- U.S. import prices fell by a smaller-than-expected margin in February as petroleum costs rebounded for the first time in six months, a government report showed on Friday.
The Labor Department said import prices slipped 0.2 percent, the smallest decrease since last July, after falling by a revised 1.2 percent in January. The February drop was smaller than market expectations for a 0.8 percent decline.
Imported petroleum prices rose 3.9 percent in February, advancing for the first time since last July, after dropping by 4.2 percent the prior month.
Compared to the same period last year, import prices were down 12.8 percent in February, the biggest decline since the index was first published in September 1982, the department said.
Prices of imports from China fell for six straight months, sliding 0.5 percent, but were up 1.0 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
Prices for U.S. exports dipped 0.1 percent in February, in line with market expectations, after increasing 0.5 percent the prior month. Prices were dragged down by a drop in agricultural, food and vehicle exports.
Export prices for the year through February were down 4.5 percent, the largest 12-month decline since the series started in September 1983, as the global economic rout depressed demand.
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