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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Jump With Higher Oil Costs
by Tom Moeller  March 13, 2013

Prices in the U.S. foreign trade sector increased during February, for the second consecutive month. Import prices jumped 1.1% (-0.3% y/y), about double the unrevised 0.6% January rise. The Action Economics survey looked for prices to rise 0.5%. Higher petroleum prices led last month's gain with a 5.2% jump (-1.4% y/y) following a 3.0% January increase.

Nonpetroleum import prices were unchanged (0.3% y/y) following two months of 0.1% uptick. Higher were foods, feeds & beverages prices as they jumped 0.6% (-0.8% y/y). Prices for nonauto consumer goods prices notched up 0.1% (0.2% y/y). These gains were offset by a 0.1% slip (+0.2% y/y) in capital goods prices outside of the high-tech area. Computers, peripheral & semiconductor costs were unchanged (-1.6% y/y) for the third consecutive month. Automotive vehicle costs also were unchanged (1.4% y/y) while nonoil industrial supplies & material prices again slipped 0.1% (+1.0% y/y).

U.S. export prices were strong and gained 0.8% (1.1% y/y) in February. That rise contrasted with expectations for a 0.3% increase. Prices were led higher by a 1.7% rise (14.6% y/y) in agricultural goods prices which reversed the January decline. Capital goods prices also were firm and posted a 0.4% rise (1.0% y/y) while motor vehicle & parts prices ticked up 0.2% (1.0% y/y). These gains were offset by a fourth consecutive decline -0.6% y/y) in nonauto consumer goods prices.

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, %) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Imports - All Commodities 1.1 0.6 -0.6 -0.3 0.3 10.9 6.9
  Petroleum 5.2 3.0 -2.9 -1.4 -0.3 36.5 28.4
  Nonpetroleum 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.3 4.5 2.8
Exports - All Commodities 0.8 0.3 -0.1 1.5 0.4 8.1 4.9
  Agricultural 2.0 -1.2 0.1 13.4 2.4 22.3 7.9
  Nonagricultural 0.6 0.5 -0.2 0.0 0.1 6.6 4.6
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