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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Turn Higher on Petroleum
by Carol Stone  September 12, 2012

U.S. import prices rose 0.7% in August, the first monthly increase since March, driven by a 4.1% surge in petroleum. July's total decreased 0.7%, revised from -0.6% reported initially. The August total was actually somewhat lower than economists had forecast, with the Action Economics consensus survey calling for a 1.3% increase.

Import prices continued lower in most nonpetroleum categories, with that subtotal down 0.2% following a 0.3% decline in July. Food and beverages were off 0.9% after a 1.0% drop in July. Most nonoil industrial supply prices fell, but there were gains in nonoil fuels and some building materials so that category only edged down 0.1% after July's sharp 1.3% fall. Capital goods prices eased 0.1% and July was revised from -0.1% originally to flat overall in August. Automotive vehicles were also flat in August after a 0.3% rise in July while other consumer goods imports fell 0.3% in price, after a 0.1% decrease in July.

U.S. export prices were up 0.9%, led by agricultural items, which surged 5.1% following their strong 6.3% gain in July. Nonagricultural commodity prices rose 0.4%, an upturn after three consecutive declines. Food items were important here too, as processed foods and industrial agriculture-related items both gained roundly 5% in August. Capital goods export prices and automotive both declined in August by 0.2%, and consumer goods exports were flat. Total export prices were still down from a year ago, by 0.9%.

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, %) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Imports - All Commodities 0.7 -0.7 -2.3 -2.2 10.9 6.9 -11.5
  Petroleum 4.1 -2.1 -8.7 -6.4 36.5 28.4 -35.9
  Nonpetroleum -0.2 -0.3 -0.3 -0.9 4.5 2.8 -4.1
Exports - All Commodities 0.9 0.4 -1.7 -0.9 8.1 4.9 -4.6
  Agricultural 5.1 6.3 -3.5 7.7 22.3 7.9 -12.8
  Nonagricultural 0.4 -0.3 -1.5 -1.9 6.6 4.6 -3.7
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