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.