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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import and Export Price Declines Continue
by Tom Moeller  February 13, 2015

Downward pressure on prices of internationally traded goods is ongoing. Import prices declined 2.8% during January (-8.0% y/y) following a revised 1.9% December fall, earlier reported as -2.5%. It was the largest of seven straight months of decline and compared to expectations for a 3.3% easing in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. A 17.7% fall (-40.1% y/y) in petroleum prices paced the decline in import costs. Nonoil prices followed suit with an accelerated 0.7% shortfall (-1.2% y/y). Monthly declines extend back to April.

Last month's weakness in nonoil import prices was led by a 2.2% decline (+0.7% y/y) in foods, feeds & beverages and a 1.6% fall (-4.1% y/y) in prices for nonoil industrial supplies. That was followed by a 0.5% drop (-1.1% y/y) in motor vehicles & parts, following three straight months of having been unchanged. Capital goods prices were off 0.4% (-1.0% y/y) and nonauto consumer goods prices declined 0.3% (-0.4% y/y). They've been down or unchanged for seven consecutive months.

Export prices fell 2.0% (-5.4% y/y), the sixth consecutive monthly drop. Nonagricultural prices fell 2.1% (-5.3% y/y), the largest of six straight monthly declines. Agricultural costs fell 1.2% (-6.3% y/y), down for the seventh month in the last eight.

A 5.7% drop (-14.7% y/y) in industrial supplies & materials prices paced last month's weakness. Petroleum prices fell 20.1% (-41.6% y/y) and foods, feeds & beverage prices were off 1.6% (-5.6% y/y). Prices excluding foods & fuels were off 0.4% (-1.0% y/y), the fifth straight down month. Nonauto consumer goods prices declined 0.8% (-1.4% y/y), the largest of five straight monthly shortfalls. Auto prices slipped 0.1% (+0.3% y/y) for a second straight month but capital goods prices improved 0.1% (0.8% y/y), for a second consecutive month.

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 from the Action Economics Forecast Survey is in the AS1REPNA database.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Imports - All Commodities -2.8 -1.9 -1.8 -8.0 -1.0 -1.1 0.3
  Petroleum -17.7 -12.4 -9.7 -40.1 -5.3 -2.6 -0.3
  Nonpetroleum -0.7 0.0 -0.3 -1.2 0.1 -0.6 0.3
Exports - All Commodities -2.0 -1.0 -0.9 -5.4 -0.5 -0.4 0.4
  Agricultural -1.2 -0.7 0.1 -6.3 -2.7 1.6 2.4
  Nonagricultural -2.1 -1.0 -1.0 -5.3 -0.3 -0.7 0.1
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