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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Flat as Oil Levels Off
by Tom Moeller January 11, 2008

Overall import prices were unchanged, as expected, last month after the revised 3.3% spurt during November.

Petroleum prices, overall, eased 0.6% after the 12.7% November surge. Crude petroleum prices rose 0.6% (53.5% y/y) after a 12.0% November jump while fuel oil prices fell 5.5% (+43.5% y/y).

Less petroleum, import prices rose 0.3% after a 0.7% November gain.

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 reduced 47% against a broader basket of currencies for industrial supplies & materials excluding petroleum rose another 0.7% (6.9% y/y). The detailed import price series can be found in the Haver USINT database.

Capital goods import prices were unchanged (0.8% y/y). Prices of computers, peripheral and semiconductors fell 0.6% (-5.3% y/y) and less the high tech sector capital goods prices rose 0.3% (3.4% y/y).

Prices for imports of nonauto consumer goods rose 0.2% (1.6% y/y) as apparel prices rose 0.3% (1.9% y/y). These prices had been unchanged or declining through 2004 to 2006. Prices for household goods rose 0.1% (1.2% y/y) and that y/y growth has been fairly stable.

The gain in overall export prices eased to 0.4%, half the prior month's increase. Agricultural prices surged again, last month by 2.7% (23.5% y/y) which was double the November increase. Prices for nonagricultural price goods eased to a 0.3% (4.5% y/y) rise after a 0.9% surge during November.

Sovereign Wealth Funds: Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones to Financial Globalization? from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

Import/Export Prices (NSA) December November Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Import - All Commodities 0.0% 3.3% 10.9% 4.2% 4.9% 7.5%
  Petroleum -0.6% 12.7% 50.1% 11.7% 20.6% 37.6%
  Non-petroleum 0.3% 0.7% 2.9% 2.7% 1.7% 2.7%
Export- All Commodities 0.4% 0.9% 6.0% 4.9% 3.6% 3.2%
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