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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Rise As Oil Rebounds
by Tom Moeller  December 14, 2011

U.S. import prices rose 0.7% last month and made up a revised 0.5% October decline, initially reported as -0.6%. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.8% rise last month. Year-to-year, higher oil prices and the lower value of the dollar raised prices for imported products by 9.9% y/y. Petroleum prices recovered 3.6% last month and rose one-third versus last year as Brent crude oil sold for an average $111.55 per barrel. Prices are near that level so far this month but remain down from April high of $112.68. Non-oil import prices fell 0.2% (+3.7% y/y) during November, down for the second consecutive month. The y/y change in non-oil import prices during the last ten years has an 81% inverse correlation with the nominal trade-weighted exchange value of the US dollar vs. major currencies.

Imported food & beverage prices slipped 0.1% last month (+8.0% y/y) while prices for non-oil industrial supplies fell 1.2% (+7.6% y/y). Prices for non-auto consumer goods ticked up 0.1% (3.3% y/y) reflecting a 4.4% gain (3.6% y/y) in household goods. Furniture prices rose 0.2% (6.9% y/y), but home entertainment equipment prices again fell (-8.6% y/y). Imported auto prices inched up 0.2% (3.5% y/y) and imported capital goods prices ticked up 0.1% (+0.9% y/y). Computer & peripherals prices were unchanged (-5.4% y/y) while excluding computers, capital goods prices gained 0.1% (3.5% y/y).

U.S. export prices notched up 0.1% as agricultural prices jumped 1.5%. The gain was accompanied by a 0.1% dip in non-agricultural goods (+4.8% y/y). Prices of industrial supplies slipped 0.2% but were up 9.6% y/y. Capital goods prices were unchanged (0.9% y/y) for the second consecutive month and nonauto consumer goods prices fell 0.2% (+3.3% y/y). That compared to a 2.1% rise last year and a 0.3% increase during all of 2009. Prices for exported autos & parts were unchanged (2.3% y/y).

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, %) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Imports - All Commodities 0.7 -0.5 -0.1 9.9 6.9 -11.5 11.5
  Petroleum 3.6 -1.1 -0.9 33.4 28.4 -35.9 37.7
  Nonpetroleum -0.2 -0.3 0.2 3.7 2.8 -4.1 5.3
Exports - All Commodities 0.1 -2.1 0.5 4.7 4.9 -4.6 6.0
  Agricultural 1.5 -6.5 1.9 5.3 7.9 -12.8 21.6
  Nonagricultural -0.1 -1.5 0.3 4.8 4.6 -3.7 4.5
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