Cheaper Oil, Strong Dollar Push Import Prices Lower

Operations At The Port Of Baltimore Ahead Of Import Price Index Figures
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON -- U.S. import prices fell in September for the third straight month as the cost of petroleum products declined and a strong dollar made it cheaper for Americans to buy goods from the European Union.

The Labor Department said Friday import prices fell 0.5 percent last month.

%VIRTUAL-WSSCourseInline-876%Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices declining 0.7 percent. Export prices fell 0.2 percent during the month.

The European Central Bank has stepped up efforts this year to pull the eurozone out of an economic crisis, which has pushed down the value of the euro against the dollar. In September, prices for imports from the European Union fell 0.9 percent, the biggest one-month decline since December 2012.

While the U.S. economy has accelerated in recent months, the global economy has appeared to slow, including in China, and the price of oil has weakened.

The cost of imported oil for the United States fell 2 percent in September.

Weak import prices are holding down U.S. inflation, which is keeping the Federal Reserve wary of rushing to raise interest rates.

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