Import prices rose in August for the first time in five months as the cost of imported oil jumped, a factor that could weigh on American consumers and fuel higher inflation.
Import prices climbed 0.7 percent last month, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.
The cost of petroleum imports increased 4.1 percent. Higher prices at the pump threaten to hurt consumers' pocket books.
Analysts had expected overall import prices would rise 1.4 percent in August.
Many economists expect higher fuel costs will contribute to a short-term rise in inflation. At the same time, the U.S. Federal Reserve is still widely expected to ease monetary policy this year, possibly launching a new bond buying program as soon as this week.
There was little sign of broader inflation pressures in the import data. Non-petroleum imports declined 0.2 percent, a sign that the cooling global economy is reducing companies' ability to raise prices.
Import prices were flat from major trading partners Japan and China. Import prices from the European Union fell 0.4 percent.
The Labor Department report also showed export prices rose 0.9 percent last month. Analysts had expected export prices to rise 0.4 percent.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Neil Stempleman)