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Economy in Brief

Import Prices Up Just 0.2%
by Tom Moeller October 14, 2004

Import prices rose a modest 0.2% last month, just half the Consensus expectation. The prior month's surge of 1.7% was a bit lower than initially estimated due to a downwardly revised 0.3% gain in non-petroleum prices.

In September, non-petroleum import prices ticked up just 0.1%. Capital goods prices were unchanged (-1.4% y/y) for the sixth month this year. Excluding computers capital goods prices also were unchanged (+1.5% y/y). Non-auto consumer goods prices similarly were unchanged (+0.6% y/y) and have been flat or down in each of the last seven months due to lower durables prices.

Petroleum prices added 0.6% to the 8.3% August spike. The price of Brent crude oil in October has pushed above $50 per barrel versus the September average of $43.41.

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 rose 0.4% due to a 1.6% (2.2% y/y) spike in agricultural prices. Nonagricultural prices rose a moderate 0.2% (4.3% y/y).

"Measuring the Costs of Exchange Rate Volatility" from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

Import/Export Prices (NSA) Sept Aug Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Import - All Commodities 0.2% 1.4% 7.8% 2.9% -2.5% -3.5%
  Petroleum 0.6% 8.3% 48.7% 21.0% 3.0% -17.2%
  Non-petroleum 0.1% 0.3% 2.9% 1.1% -2.4% -1.5%
Export - All Commodities 0.4% -0.5% 4.0% 1.6% -1.0% -0.8%
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