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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Increase With Oil Prices
by Tom Moeller  February 14, 2012

U.S. import prices rose 0.3% last month after an unrevised 0.1% December slip. A 0.2% rise had been expected. Year-to-year, higher oil prices and the lower value of the dollar raised prices for imported products by 7.1% y/y. Petroleum prices rose 1.2% last month though the y/y gain continued to moderate. Brent crude oil rose to an average $110.49 per barrel and so far this month have risen further to average $116.36. Non-oil import prices held constant m/m and were up a lessened 2.5% y/y. 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 jumped 2.3% last month (5.9% y/y) while prices for non-oil industrial supplies fell 0.8% (+3.7% y/y), down for the third straight month. Prices for non-auto consumer goods fell 0.4% (+2.6% y/y) reflecting a sharp 1.1% decline (+1.7% y/y) in household goods. Furniture prices slipped 0.1% (+5.8% y/y) and home entertainment equipment prices rose 0.3% (-5.1% y/y). The increase reflected higher TV costs but they're still off 5.2% y/y. Imported auto prices increased 0.5% (3.9% y/y) and imported capital goods prices gained 0.4% (1.6% y/y). Computer & peripherals prices rose 0.5% (-2.5% y/y) while excluding computers, capital goods prices increased 0.3% (3.4% y/y).

U.S. export prices gained 0.2% (2.5% y/y) as agricultural prices rose 1.1% (-1.0% y/y) and non-agricultural goods prices were unchanged (+3.0% y/y). Prices of industrial supplies fell 0.3% and were up a lessened 3.7% y/y. Capital goods prices rose 0.4% (1.0% y/y) after being unchanged for three months. Nonauto consumer goods prices fell 0.4% (+3.5% y/y) and prices for exported autos & parts rose 0.2% (2.7% 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, %) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Imports - All Commodities 0.3 -0.1 0.8 7.1 10.9 6.9 -11.5
  Petroleum 1.2 -0.5 3.4 23.7 36.4 28.4 -35.9
  Nonpetroleum 0.0 0.1 -0.3 2.5 4.5 2.8 -4.1
Exports - All Commodities 0.2 -0.5 0.1 2.5 8.1 4.9 -4.6
  Agricultural 1.1 -2.4 1.7 -1.0 22.3 7.9 -12.8
  Nonagricultural 0.0 -0.2 -0.1 3.0 6.6 4.6 -3.7
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