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Economy in Brief

Import Prices Jumped
by Tom Moeller May 12, 2006

Total import prices jumped 2.1% last month following declines during the prior two months. The gain was nearly double consensus expectations for a 1.1% increase.

Petroleum prices were notably strong and rose 11.5% (32.5% y/y). Nonpetroleum import prices also firmed and were unchanged after two consecutive months of decline.

Industrial materials prices less petroleum rose 0.5% (6.1% y/y) after two months of sharp decline. Prices for nonauto consumer goods fell 0.2% (-0.3% y/y) and capital goods prices were unchanged for the third consecutive month (-1.5% y/y). Excluding a 0.4% decline in computer prices, capital goods prices rose 0.1% for the second month (0.7% y/y).

During the last ten years there has been a 66% (negative) correlation between the nominal trade-weighted exchange value of the US dollar vs. major currencies and the y/y change in non oil import prices. The correlation is a lower 47% against a broader basket of currencies and a lower 57% against the real value of the dollar.

Export prices rose 0.6%, the strongest increase since January.

Import/Export Prices (NSA) April Mar Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Import - All Commodities 2.1% -0.2% 5.9% 7.5% 5.6% 2.9%
  Petroleum 11.5% 0.5% 32.5% 37.6% 30.5% 21.0%
  Non-petroleum 0.0% -0.3% 0.8% 2.7% 2.6% 1.1%
Export - All Commodities 0.6% 0.2% 2.4% 3.2% 3.9% 1.6%
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