U.S. import prices jump as energy costs surge

/ Source: msnbc.com news services

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

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

Export prices advanced 0.7 percent after a 1.5 percent gain in November. They were up 6.5 percent 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.