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German import prices show smallest annual increase in two years

FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at a terminal in the port of Hamburg

BERLIN (Reuters) - German import prices in February registered their smallest increase in two years as energy prices eased.

February import prices were up 2.8% year on year, the statistics office said on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 4.2% increase.

December and January's import prices had risen by 12.6% and 6.6% respectively and February's increase was the smallest since the same month in 2021.

The year-on-year increase in February was mainly because of high prices for consumer and capital goods, while import prices for energy decreased by 8.1%, the statistics office said.

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The war in Ukraine led to import prices rising by an average of 26.3% in 2022, the highest growth since the 1974 oil crisis. Since September, however, inflationary pressure has eased somewhat.

Compared with the previous month, import prices fell in February by 2.4% for their sixth consecutive decline. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a monthly decline of 1%.

Since the German economy sources many intermediate products and raw materials from abroad, falling import prices have a delayed impact on general inflation.

German consumer prices, harmonised to compare with other European Union countries, rose by an annual 7.8% in March, the lowest rate since April 2022.

The statistics office offers more detailed economic data for import prices on its website.

(Reporting by Maria Martinez, Rene Wagner and Matthias Williams; Editing by Rachel More and David Goodman)