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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Recover With Rise In Oil
by Tom Moeller   November 10, 2010

The recent volatility of oil prices has dominated the monthly ups and downs of U.S. import prices. During October there was a clear upward influence as there has been through this year. Import prices jumped 0.9% last month following a 0.1% September downtick, initially reported as -0.3%. The increase fell short of Consensus expectations for a 1.1% gain. A 3.3% rise (7.6% y/y) in petroleum prices accompanied a 0.4% increase (2.7% y/y) in nonoil prices.

The 3.3% rise in petroleum prices pulled them up 7.6% y/y. So far this month, Brent crude oil prices have risen another 4.4% to $86.89 per barrel compared to $83.26 in October. Non-oil import prices rose 0.4% during October and have increased 1.5% since year-end. (The y/y change in non-oil import prices during the last ten years has had a negative 81% correlation with the nominal trade-weighted exchange value of the US dollar vs. major currencies.)

Imported food & beverage prices rose 9.8% y/y compared to a 2.8% decline during 2009. Prices for non-auto consumer goods fell 0.6% y/y. Appliance prices rose 0.1% y/y) following a 0.8% gain in 2009. Furniture prices fell 2.0% y/y and home entertainment equipment prices declined another 8.5%. Imported auto prices rose 0.8% y/y after a 0.4% increase last year and capital goods slipped 0.1% y/y. Computer & peripherals prices fell 2.5% from last October while excluding computers, capital goods prices rose 0.9% y/y after the 0.7% rise during 2009.

Total export prices rose 0.8% last month and pulled prices up 5.8% y/y. The gain reflected a 2.5% rise (15.7% y/y) in agricultural export prices after a 12.8% decline last year. Non-agricultural goods prices rose 0.7% (4.8% y/y) after a 3.7% decline in 2008.

The import and export price series can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures are available in the USINT database.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) Oct Sept Aug Oct. Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Import - All Commodities 0.9 -0.1 0.4 3.6 -11.5 11.5 4.2
 Petroleum 3.3 -1.5 1.4 7.6 -35.9 37.7 11.6
 Nonpetroleum 0.4 0.2 0.2 2.7 -4.1 5.3 2.7
Export - All Commodities 0.8 0.6 0.8 5.8 -4.6 6.0 4.9
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