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Import Prices Decline Unexpectedly

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The price of goods imported into the United States declined unexpectedly last month, falling for the first time since September 2003, the government said on Wednesday in a report likely to ease inflation expectations.

Import prices fell 0.2 percent in June, reflecting a broad decline dominated by lower oil costs, the Labor Department said. Wall Street had expected a 0.2 percent rise.

June petroleum product costs fell 1.0 percent, after an outsized 9.4 percent gain the month before. Excluding petroleum, import prices were unchanged in June for the first time after seven consecutive monthly increases.

Food prices fell 0.5 percent, their largest decline in a year, and industrial supplies and materials fell 0.6 percent. Capital goods fell a more modest 0.1 percent.

Export prices fell 0.6 percent last month, their first decline in nearly a year. Agricultural products slid 4.6 percent, leading the export price fall and posting their largest decline since September 1996.

Wednesday's report also revised down May import price increase to 1.4 percent from a previously reported 1.6 percent rise. Petroleum import prices were first reported as a 10.3 percent increase in May.




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