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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import & Export Prices Strengthen Broadly
by Tom Moeller  February 16, 2018

Import prices increased 1.0% during January (3.6% y/y) for the second time in three months. A 0.6% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Petroleum import prices strengthened 4.3% (20.9% y/y) following strong increases in four of the previous six months. Nonpetroleum import prices jumped 0.5% (1.9% y/y), the strongest increase since April 2011. Amongst end-use categories, industrial supplies and materials prices excluding petroleum increased 2.4% (9.1% y/y) after a 0.4% rise. Among other detail categories, prices of foods, feeds and beverages rose 0.8% (3.1% y/y) and reversed a 0.9% dip. Capital goods prices edged 0.1% higher. Year-to-year growth picked up to 0.9% following declines in each of the prior five years. Capital goods prices excluding computers, semiconductors & peripherals rose 0.3% and increased 0.7% y/y after five years of decline. Prices of motor vehicles and parts improved 0.5% (0.6% y/y) following three consecutive months of stability. Prices of consumer goods excluding automobiles held steady, and the y/y change of -0.2% continues the declining trend of the last three years.

Export prices increased 0.8%, the strongest increase since September. Annual growth of 3.4% is stronger than 2.4% last year and up from declines in 2015 & 2016. The Action Economics Survey expected a modest 0.3% rise for January.

The total export price increase was powered by a 0.9% improvement (3.7% y/y) in nonagricultural export prices, the strongest gain since September. Agricultural export prices eased 0.1% (+1.4% y/y) following declines in three of the prior four months. Among the end-use categories for exports, overall foods, feeds and beverage prices fell 0.2% (+1.5% y/y), down in four of the last five months. Prices of industrial supplies and materials increased 2.0% (7.6% y/y) after a 0.6% rise, as petroleum prices gained 3.2% (16.2 y/y. Nonagricultural supplies and materials prices excluding fuels and building materials increased 1.1% (5.4% y/y) after a 0.2% gain. Prices of motor vehicles and parts rose 0.3% (0.4% y/y) following two months of slight decline. Capital goods prices strengthened 0.5% (2.0% y/y), the strongest gain in three months. Capital goods prices excluding computers, peripherals & semiconductors rose 0.5% (1.9% y/y). Auto export prices rose 0.3% (0.4% y/y) after a 0.2% rise last year. Non-auto consumer goods prices rose 0.3% (1.9% y/y), the strongest gain in five months.

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  Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Imports - All Commodities 1.0 0.2 1.0 3.6 2.9 -3.3 -10.2
  Petroleum 4.3 2.3 9.5 20.9 26.6 -19.7 -46.0
  Nonpetroleum 0.5 0.0 0.2 1.9 1.1 -1.5 -2.8
Exports - All Commodities 0.8 0.1 0.5 3.4 2.4 -3.2 -6.3
  Agricultural -0.1 -0.3 -0.7 1.4 1.5 -5.4 -13.3
  Nonagricultural 0.9 0.1 0.7 3.7 2.5 -3.0 -5.5
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