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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Price Decline Fueled By Oil Price Drop
by Tom Moeller  May 10, 2012

U.S. import prices fell 0.5% during April after a 1.5% March rise, initially pegged as 1.3%. A 0.2% dip had been expected. The year-to-year increase in import prices decelerated to 0.5%, as oil prices declined. Petroleum prices fell 1.8% last month after a 4.8% March gain. Brent crude oil fell to an average $120.37 per barrel from March's $125.13, and yesterday fell further to $112.43. Non-oil import prices were unchanged (0.7% y/y) following a 0.3% rise during March. The y/y change in non-oil import prices during the last twenty years has a 59% inverse correlation with the nominal trade-weighted exchange value of the US dollar vs. major currencies.

Imported food & beverage prices inched up 0.1% last month (-2.7% y/y) while prices for non-oil industrial supplies fell 0.4% (-2.2% y/y). Prices for non-auto consumer goods ticked up 0.1% (2.4% y/y). Furniture prices rose 0.1% (4.1% y/y) but home entertainment equipment prices fell 1.5% (-5.9% y/y). Imported auto prices rose 0.4% (2.1% y/y) and imported capital goods prices were unchanged (1.1% y/y). Computer & peripherals prices fell 0.5% (-2.1% y/y) while excluding computers, capital goods prices again rose 0.3% (2.4% y/y).

U.S. export prices increased 0.4% (0.7% y/y) as nonagricultural prices rose 0.2% (1.2% y/y) but agricultural goods prices jumped another 2.0% (-3.1% y/y). Prices of industrial supplies rose 0.4% (-1.4% y/y). Capital goods prices were unchanged (1.6% y/y) and nonauto consumer goods prices slipped 0.2% (+2.0% y/y). Prices for exported autos & parts rose 0.5% (2.9% 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 daily figure are in DAILY. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Imports - All Commodities -0.5 1.5 0.0 0.5 10.9 6.9 -11.5
  Petroleum -1.8 4.9 0.3 0.1 36.5 28.4 -35.9
  Nonpetroleum 0.0 0.3 -0.1 0.7 4.5 2.8 -4.1
Exports - All Commodities 0.4 0.8 0.5 0.7 8.1 4.9 -4.6
  Agricultural 2.0 2.5 -0.4 -3.1 22.3 7.9 -12.8
  Nonagricultural 0.2 0.5 0.6 1.2 6.6 4.6 -3.7
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