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Economy in Brief

Import Prices Spike Higher
by Tom Moeller September 9, 2004

Import prices spiked 1.7% higher last month, the largest one month gain since February 2003 and more than triple the Consensus expectation. The prior month's gain was revised up due to raised petroleum prices.

Petroleum prices jumped 9.6% but a decline in the price of Brent crude oil so far in September versus August indicates the strength has not continued. Brent crude has traded near $41.00 versus $43.20 last month.

Non-petroleum import prices rose 0.4%, the strongest rise since February, following a downwardly revised no change in July. Capital goods prices were unchanged (-1.5% y/y) for the fifth month this year and were 0.8% below last December. Excluding computers capital goods prices rose 0.2% (+1.2% y/y). Non-auto consumer goods prices also were unchanged (+0.6% y/y).

During the last ten years there has been a (negative) 55% correlation between the level of the dollar and the y/y change in nonpetroleum import prices.

Export prices reversed all of the 0.5% rise the prior month as agricultural commodities prices fell 8.5%.

Import/Export Prices (NSA) Aug July Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Import - All Commodities 1.7% 0.3% 7.2% 2.9% -2.5% -3.5%
  Petroleum 9.6% 2.0% 40.4% 21.0% 3.0% -17.2%
  Non-petroleum 0.4% 0.0% 3.2% 1.1% -2.4% -1.5%
Export - All Commodities -0.5% 0.5% 3.9% 1.6% -1.0% -0.8%
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