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Higher oil prices drive up US import costs in February for 2nd straight month

WASHINGTON – Prices paid by U.S. importers rose in February for the second straight month, pushed up by higher oil prices.

The Labor Department says import prices rose 1.1 per cent in February after a 0.6 per cent gain the previous month. Fuel imports jumped 4.9 per cent. Excluding fuel, import prices were flat.

Low import costs have helped hold down U.S. inflation. Even with the last two months of increases in oil costs, import prices have fallen 0.3 per cent in the 12 months ending in February. They haven’t recorded a year-over-year increase since last April.

Export prices rose 0.8 per cent in February from January, pushed up by higher prices for agricultural goods. In the past year, export prices have increased 1.5 per cent, led by a 13.4 per cent jump in farm goods.