U.S. Import Prices Jump as Energy Costs Surge

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"Inflation may be tame domestically, but overseas price pressures loom."

U.S. import prices jumped in December as energy costs surged, a sign that while inflation may be tame domestically there are plenty of price pressures coming from overseas.

Import prices rose 1.1%, just beneath economists' forecasts in a Reuters poll, following a revised 1.5% increase in November. Prices were up 4.8% for 2010 as a whole, according to the Labor Department data released on Wednesday.

Petroleum import prices climbed 3.9%, while non-petroleum costs rose just 0.4%.

Export prices advanced 0.7% after a 1.5% gain in November. They were up 6.5% in 2010, the highest in records dating back to 1983, and nearly double the rise seen in 2009.

A low-inflation environment in the United States has allowed the Federal Reserve to maintain a very loose monetary policy, but a recent spike in global energy and commodity prices has raised some concern that cost pressures might pick up.

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