Pushed up by higher fuel prices, the price index for U.S. imports increased by 1.1 percent last month, the largest monthly price increase since August, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The cost of imports bumped up 0.6 percent in January. Export prices rose by 0.8 percent in February after a 0.3-percent increase in January.
Fuel imports showed the biggest increase in February, rising by 4.9 percent on the strength of petroleum costs, while non-fuel import prices remained flat. Imports to the United States from Canada, Mexico and the European Union saw the biggest price increases, with Canada leading the pack at 1.5 percent. After a 0.2-percent decline in January, import prices from China rose by 0.1 percent. Japan import prices fell by 0.4 percent.
The import price increases come after prices fell during the last quarter of 2012, but are still sluggish year-over-year, with last month only showing a 0.3-percent increase over February 2012's numbers. The last year-over-year increase occurred in April 2012.
Exports, driven mostly by cost increases in the agricultural sector, last showed a price increase in September 2012. - Jon Ross