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updated: 3/13/2013 8:46 AM

Higher oil prices drive up US import costs

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By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Prices paid by U.S. importers rose in February for the second straight month, pushed up by higher oil prices.

The Labor Department says import prices rose 1.1 percent in February after a 0.6 percent gain the previous month. Fuel imports jumped 4.9 percent. Excluding fuel, import prices were flat.

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Low import costs have helped hold down U.S. inflation. Even with the last two months of increases in oil costs, import prices have fallen 0.3 percent in the 12 months ending in February. They haven't recorded a year-over-year increase since last April.

Export prices rose 0.8 percent in February from January, pushed up by higher prices for agricultural goods. In the past year, export prices have increased 1.5 percent, led by a 13.4 percent jump in farm goods.

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