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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Fall Again With Oil
by Tom Moeller  November 10, 2011

U.S. import prices fell 0.6% last month after no change during September, revised from a 0.3% increase. Consensus expectations had been for no change during October. Year-to-year, higher oil prices and the lower value of the dollar raised prices for imported products by 11.0%. Though they fell versus September, petroleum prices rose 36.0% y/y as Brent crude oil sold for an average $108.82 per barrel. That was down versus the high of $122.68 during April but prices have made up some of the decline this month. Non-oil import prices fell 0.4% (+4.8% y/y) during October. The y/y change in non-oil import prices during the last ten years has had an 81% inverse correlation with the nominal trade-weighted exchange value of the US dollar vs. major currencies.

Imported food & beverage prices fell 1.0% last month (+10.5% y/y) while prices for non-oil industrial supplies fell 2.2% (+11.6% y/y). Prices for non-auto consumer goods rose 0.7% (3.6% y/y) led by a 3.4% jump (-0.9% y/y) in medicinal products. Furniture prices rose 0.9% (6.5% y/y), but home entertainment equipment prices again fell (-7.4% y/y). Imported auto prices ticked up 0.1% (3.6% y/y) but imported capital goods prices fell 0.3% (+0.9% y/y). Computer & peripherals prices fell 0.9% (-6.0% y/y) while excluding computers, capital goods prices slipped 0.1% and by 3.8% y/y.

U.S. export prices fell 2.1% as agricultural prices dropped 6.5%. The decline was accompanied by a 1.5% drop in non-agricultural goods (+5.7% y/y). Prices of industrial supplies fell 3.6% but were up 12.5% y/y. Capital goods prices were unchanged (1.2% y/y) and nonauto consumer goods prices slipped 0.1% (+4.1% y/y). That compared to a 2.1% rise last year and a 0.3% increase during all of 2009.

The import and export price series can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures are available in the USINT database. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Imports - All Commodities -0.6 0.0 -0.4 11.0 6.9 -11.5 11.5
  Petroleum -1.0 -0.6 -2.3 36.0 28.4 -35.9 37.7
  Nonpetroleum -0.4 0.3 0.3 4.8 2.8 -4.1 5.3
Exports - All Commodities -2.1 0.4 0.5 6.3 4.9 -4.6 6.0
  Agricultural -6.5 1.9 1.6 11.5 7.9 -12.8 21.6
  Nonagricultural -1.5 0.2 0.4 5.7 4.6 -3.7 4.5
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