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Economy in Brief

Imported Price Inflation Up
by Tom Moeller March 18, 2005

Import prices rose 0.8% last month and about matched Consensus expectations for a 0.7% rise. The prior month's increase was revised down slightly due to a lessened gain in petroleum prices but the estimated rise in nonpetroleum prices was revised higher.

Petroleum prices jumped 3.9% on top of the 3.4% surge the prior month. So far in March the price of Brent Crude oil has averaged $52.15 per barrel, up 14.2% versus the $45.66 averaged last month.

Other than oil, import prices continued to move moderately higher. Prices for nonauto consumer goods rose 0.2% (1.0% y/y) though prices in most categories were little changed. Capital goods prices also were unchanged m/m (-0.6% y/y) but lower computer prices (-0.4% m/m, -6.8% y/y) accounted for most of the weakness. Excluding computers capital goods prices rose 0.2% (2.5% y/y) and contrasted with price deflation in excess of 2% early in 2002.

Export prices were unchanged last month as a 0.9% decline (-8.2% y/y) in agricultural prices offset a 0.1% (4.7% y/y) gain in nonagricultural export prices.

Exchange Rates and the Prices of Manufacturing Products Imported into the United States is a 2002 article from the Federal Reserve Bank of New England.

Import/Export Prices (NSA) Feb Jan Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Import - All Commodities 0.8% 0.7% 6.1% 5.6% 2.9% -2.5%
  Petroleum 3.9% 3.4% 26.6% 30.4% 21.0% 3.0%
  Non-petroleum 0.2% 0.3% 2.9% 2.6% 1.1% -2.4%
Export - All Commodities 0.0% 0.9% 3.4% 3.9% 1.6% -1.0%
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