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Postal Service says stamp prices to go up 1 cent next year

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The cost of sending a letter in the United States will go up by a penny next year, the cash-strapped Postal Service said on Thursday.

"Forever" stamps will cost 46 cents starting on January 27, the agency said. Consumers can use those stamps to mail 1-ounce letters anywhere in the country. As the name implies, they are always valid, even after stamp prices rise.

The Postal Service will also offer a new, global Forever stamp starting next year, which customers can use to send letters anywhere in the world for a set price of $1.10.

The struggling mail agency is facing a cash crisis. Mail volumes have plummeted as Americans turn to online communications, and the agency has defaulted twice in recent months on payments required by Congress.

The agency relies on the sale of stamps and other products, rather than taxpayer dollars, to fund its operations.

Domestic stamp prices rose by 1 cent last January to 45 cents.

Consumers can purchase the 45-cent Forever stamps until the new price takes effect in January.

The global Forever stamp would boost the cost to mail a letter by 5 cents for most international destinations. The cost to send a letter to Canada or Mexico using a global Forever stamp would rise by 25 cents. The cost to mail a postcard also will go up by 1 cent to 33 cents.

Postal officials have asked Congress to allow the agency to raise stamp prices beyond inflation, end Saturday mail delivery and make other changes. The agency lost $5.2 billion in the period from April to June.

Lawmakers have been grappling for more than a year with ways to help the Postal Service return to profitability, but have yet to agree on how to revamp the agency. Congress is expected to take up postal legislation after the November 6 election.

(Reporting By Emily Stephenson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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