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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Move Lower Despite Higher Petroleum Prices
by Tom Moeller  April 10, 2015

Import prices declined 0.3% (-10.5% y/y) during March and reversed February's 0.2% increase, revised from 0.4%. The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated a 0.4% decline.

Prices of petroleum imports increased 0.8% (-45.1% y/y) after a 5.2% rise. Nonpetroleum import prices were off 0.4% (-2.7% y/y). Industrial materials prices excluding petroleum continued downward, off 1.5% (-9.9% y/y), about the same as during the prior two months. Building materials prices declined 1.1% (-3.4% y/y). Prices amongst the other end-use categories also continued to fall. Food, feed & beverage prices declined 1.1% (-2.9% y/y) and autos & parts prices were off 0.3% (-1.8% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods prices also declined 0.3% (-0.6% y/y) while capital goods prices edged down 0.1% (-1.0% y/y).

Export prices also continued tame. Their 0.1% uptick (-6.7% y/y) was the first positive reading in eight months. A 0.2% decline had been expected. Agricultural export prices declined 1.7% (-13.5% y/y) while non-agricultural prices gained 0.2% (-5.9% y/y). Overall industrial materials & supplies prices increased 0.7% (-16.3% y/y), reflecting a 5.1% rise (-35.7% y/y) in petroleum prices. That was offset by a 1.2% decline (-12.2% y/y) in foods, feeds & beverage prices. Prices excluding foods and fuels edged 0.2% lower (-1.8% y/y), down for the seventh straight month. Capital goods export prices remained unchanged (0.7% y/y) although prices excluding computers & peripheral nudged up 0.1% (1.3% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods prices also were unchanged (-1.7% y/y) but autos & parts prices ticked 0.1% higher (0.4% y/y).

The import and export price series can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures, including the industrial materials excluding 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, %) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Imports - All Commodities -0.3 0.2 -3.2 -10.5 -1.1 -1.1 0.3
  Petroleum 0.8 5.2 -21.2 -45.1 -5.6 -2.6 -0.3
  Nonpetroleum -0.4 -0.3 -0.7 -2.7 0.1 -0.6 0.3
Exports - All Commodities 0.1 -0.2 -1.8 -6.7 -0.5 -0.4 0.4
  Agricultural -1.7 -2.1 -1.3 -13.5 -2.7 1.6 2.4
  Nonagricultural 0.2 0.1 -1.9 -5.9 -0.3 -0.7 0.1
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