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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Decline Despite Petroleum Price Increase
by Tom Moeller  May 13, 2015

Import prices declined 0.3% (-10.7% y/y) last month following a 0.2% March fall, revised from -0.3%. The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated a 0.2% rise.

Prices of petroleum imports increased 1.0% (-47.0% y/y) after a 1.6% rise. Nonpetroleum import prices, however, were off 0.4% (-2.7% y/y) for a second month. Industrial materials prices excluding petroleum continued downward by 1.1% (-8.6% y/y), about the same as during the prior three 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 0.9% (-2.4% y/y) and autos & parts prices were unchanged (-1.9% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods prices slipped 0.1% (-0.8% y/y) while capital goods prices were off 0.3% (-1.3% y/y).

Export prices also continued weak. Their 0.7% decline followed a 0.1% uptick. No change had been expected. Agricultural export prices declined 0.8% (-15.6% y/y) while non-agricultural prices were off 0.7% (-5.3% y/y). Overall industrial materials & supplies prices declined 1.5% (-14.2% y/y), reflecting a 5.6% decline (-35.8% y/y) in petroleum prices. That was accompanied by a 0.8% drop (-14.7% y/y) in foods, feeds & beverage prices. Prices excluding foods and fuels edged 0.2% lower (-1.9% y/y), down for the eighth straight month. Capital goods export prices were off 0.3% (+0.3% y/y) and prices excluding computers & peripheral slipped 0.1% (+0.9% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods prices fell 0.3 (-2.2% y/y) but autos & parts prices ticked 0.1% higher (0.1% 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, %) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Imports - All Commodities -0.3 -0.2 -0.4 -10.7 -1.1 -1.1 0.3
  Petroleum  1.0 1.6 -1.4 -47.0 -5.6 -2.6 -0.3
  Nonpetroleum -0.4 -0.4 -0.3 -2.7 0.1 -0.6 0.3
Exports - All Commodities -0.7 0.1 -0.2 -6.3 -0.5 -0.4 0.4
  Agricultural -0.8 -1.7 -2.1 -5.6 -2.7 1.6 2.4
  Nonagricultural -0.7 0.2 0.1 -5.3 -0.3 -0.7 0.1
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