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Economy in Brief

Imported Price Inflation Up Sharply
by Tom Moeller April 15, 2005

The 1.8% rise in import prices last month greatly exceeded Consensus expectations for a 1.3% increase and the prior month's gain was revised up.

Petroleum prices jumped 10.6% m/m and pulled prices one third higher than last year, but relief may be in store. So far in April the price of Brent Crude oil has run below the March average of $53.13 per barrel and yesterday touched $49.79.

Import prices outside of petroleum posted a 0.3% rise in March that mostly reflected a 3.4% (9.7% y/y) gain in prices of foods & beverages but prices for industrial supplies & materials less petroleum also posted a strong 1.1% (11.1% y/y) spike.

Prices for nonauto consumer goods fell 0.4% (+1.0% y/y) and capital goods prices slipped another 0.1% (-0.9% y/y). Excluding computers capital goods prices were unchanged (2.3% y/y). Imported computer prices fell 0.5% (-7.2% y/y).

Export prices jumped 0.7% last month as agricultural prices surged 3.7% (-8.1% y/y) and nonagricultural export prices rose 0.4% (4.6% y/y).

Import/Export Prices (NSA) Mar Feb Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Import - All Commodities 1.8% 0.8% 7.1% 5.6% 2.9% -2.5%
  Petroleum 10.6% 4.6% 36.1% 30.5% 21.0% 3.0%
  Non-petroleum 0.3% 0.1% 2.9% 2.6% 1.1% -2.4%
Export - All Commodities 0.7% 0.0% 3.3% 3.9% 1.6% -1.0%
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