The import prices in the United States dropped in the month of March as the increasing costs of petroleum were offset by tumbling prices for other goods, an indication of muted inflation backing the view that the Federal Reserve Bank may not hike the rates of interest in June.
According to the report by the US Labor Department, the import prices fell 0.3 percent in March after a downwardly revised gain of 0.2 percent in February.
Several economists had predicted import prices dropping 0.3 percent after an earlier reported 0.4 percent surge in February, when the prices advanced after dropping for seven consecutive months.
The prices tumbled 10.5 percent in the 12 months through March, which is the largest decline since September 2009.
The debt prices of the US government were largely unchanged after the data. The US dollar turned stronger compared to a basket of currencies, while the US stock index futures were mixed.
Lower prices of crude oil and a buoyant greenback together have dampened the price pressures, leaving the inflation running very below the two percent target set by the US central bank.
The Fed officials believe the low inflation environment is transitory.
The import prices, except petroleum, dropped 0.4 percent last month. They had plunged 0.3 percent in February. The prices of imported food dropped 1.1 percent after being unchanged in February.
According to the Labor Department report, the export prices gained 0.1 percent in March. This is the first rise since July after a slip of 0.2 percent in February.
The export prices dropped 6.7 percent in the 12 months through last month, which is the largest decline since July 2009.