Import prices fall for fifth month in a row to help ease U.S. inflation

Import prices fall for fifth month in a row to help ease U.S. inflation

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The numbers: The cost of imported goods fell 0.6% in November and retreated for the fifth month in a row, helping to ease intense inflationary pressures in the U.S.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated a 0.5% decrease.

Falling oil prices have been a big contributor to the lower cost of imports. But even if fuel is excluded, prices dropped 0.4% in November.

Big picture: A strong dollar and lower oil prices are helping to bring down high U.S. inflation. The high value of the dollar reduces the cost of imports.

Inflation still has a long way to go to return to pre-pandemic levels of 2% or so. The annual rate of inflation as of November was 7.1%.

Key details: The increase in import prices over the past year slowed to 2.7% from 4.1% in the prior month and a 14-year peak of 13% in March. That’s the smallest increase in almost two years.

Fuel prices declined 2.8% in November. The cost of metals, steel and chemicals also fell.

Imported food prices rose, however. The cost of groceries in the U.S. has climbed 12% in the past year.

Export prices slid 0.3% in November, mirroring the broad trend seen in imported goods.

 Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average

and S&P 500

were set to open slightly lower in Wednesday trades.

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