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Economic Report: Import prices climb again and add to high U.S. inflation

The numbers: The cost of imported goods increased sharply in November, contributing to the highest rate of U.S. inflation in almost 40 years.

The U.S. import price index jumped 0.7% last month, the government said Wednesday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.6% advance.

Over the past year import prices has climbed 11.7%. The last time they rose that fast before the pandemic was in 2011.

Import prices minus oil rose 0.5%.

Key details: The cost of imported fuel, autos, consumer goods and industrial supplies rose in November.

Those increases offset lower prices for food and drinks.

U.S. export prices rose 1% in November. They are up 18.2% in the past year.

Big picture: The cost of most goods and services have surged this year to drive inflation to the highest level since the early 1980s, when the U.S. last experienced a bout of soaring prices.

Major shortages of labor and supplies tied to the pandemic are the main culprits.

The Federal Reserve is betting that inflation will slow sharply toward the end of 2022 as the shortages ease, but the central bank is worried enough that it’s speeding up plans to phase out stimulus for the economy.

Market reaction: The import-prices report usually has little sway on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.35%

and S&P 500
SPX,
-0.26%

 were set to open narrowly mixed in Wednesday trades.

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