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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import and Export Price Totals Turn Mixed with Upturn in Petroleum
by Carol Stone  March 12, 2015

Prices of most internationally traded goods remained weak in February, but petroleum was a notable exception for both imports and exports. Overall import prices rose 0.4% (-9.4% y/y), including an 8.1% surge in petroleum; nonpetroleum commodity imports were still down in price, by 0.4% (-1.8% y/y). January's import price result was revised to -3.1% from -2.8% reported before. Total export commodity prices were still off, by 0.1% (-5.9% y/y), but that included a 5.4% rise in prices of fuels & lubricants. The total export price index had fallen 1.9% in January, revised from -2.0% initially reported. The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated a 0.1% rise in total import prices for February and a 0.5% decline in total export prices.

Prices of imported industrial materials excluding petroleum continued weak in February, down 1.9% (-7.6% y/y). Most other broad end-use categories also continued to fall, with capital goods down 0.4% (-1.0% y/y), food, feed & beverages down 0.2% (-1.8% y/y) and autos & parts also 0.2% (-1.3% y/y). Consumer goods, though, rose 0.3% (-0.3% y/y), with increases in all major sub-categories, manufactured durables, manufactured nondurables and nonmanufactured goods.

Among export prices, agricultural products continued to drop, falling 2.0% in February and cumulating to -9.5% year-on-year. Nonagricultural export prices did rise last month, by 0.2% (-5.5% y/y). Much of the latter reflects the upturn in fuel & lubricants. Overall industrial materials & supplies were up 0.6% (-5.3% y/y). Capital goods export prices also rose, by 0.2% (+0.8% y/y). Other categories, though, were still down, especially food, feed & beverages by 2.1% (-8.6% y/y), autos & parts by 0.3% (+0.1% y/y) and consumer goods by 0.5% (-1.4% y/y).

The import and export price series can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures, including the industrial materials ex petroleum imports and the fuel & lubricant export items mentioned above, are available in the USINT database. The expectations figure from the Action Economics Forecast Survey is in the AS1REPNA database.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Imports - All Commodities +0.4 -3.1 -1.9 -9.4 -1.1 -1.1 0.3
  Petroleum +8.1 -20.6 -12.4 -43.2 -5.6 -2.6 -0.3
  Nonpetroleum -0.4 -0.6 0.0 -1.8 0.1 -0.6 0.3
Exports - All Commodities -0.1 -1.9 -1.0 -5.9 -0.5 -0.4 0.4
  Agricultural -2.0 -1.2 -0.7 -9.5 -2.7 1.6 2.4
  Nonagricultural -0.2 -2.0 -1.0 -5.5 -0.3 -0.7 0.1
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