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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Hold Steady; Export Prices Weaken
by Tom Moeller  August 14, 2018

Import prices remained unchanged during July (4.8% y/y) following a 0.1% slip in June, which was revised from -0.4%. A 0.1% uptick had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Weakness in import prices last month was led by a 0.1% slip (+1.3% y/y) in nonpetroleum import costs which followed a 0.4% drop. The decline was paced by a 1.8% shortfall (-3.8% y/y) in prices of foods, feeds and beverages which followed a 2.6% decline during June. Capital goods prices eased 0.1% (+0.3% y/y) for the third straight month. Prices of computers, peripherals & semiconductors held steady both m/m and y/y. Capital goods prices excluding computers, semiconductors & peripherals were unchanged (+0.4% y/y) after a 0.2% decline. Motor vehicle & parts prices held steady (+0.3% y/y) after slipping 0.1% in each of the prior two months. Working 0.3% higher (0.6% y/y) were prices of consumer goods excluding automobiles after falling 0.3%. Industrial supplies and materials prices increased 0.2% (20.9% y/y), but prices excluding petroleum decreased 0.3% (+8.2% y/y) following a 0.2% gain. Petroleum & petroleum product prices jumped 0.9% (43.6% y/y) following two months of even stronger increase.

Export prices declined 0.5% (+4.3% y/y) in July following a 0.2% rise, revised from 0.3%. A 0.2% increase had been expected.

Agricultural export prices weakened 5.3% (-2.0% y/y) following a 1.0% decline. Nonagricultural export prices held steady (5.0% y/y) after a 0.4% gain. Among the end-use categories, prices of industrial supplies and materials fell 0.4% (+12.0% y/y), as petroleum prices held steady (30.1% y/y). Nonagricultural supplies and materials prices excluding fuels and building materials declined 0.4% (+7.0% y/y) following a 0.3% rise. Prices of foods, feeds and beverages were off 4.7% (-2.2% y/y) and added to the prior month's 1.0% decline. Capital good prices held steady (1.8% y/y) following two months of 0.1% gain as computers, peripherals & semiconductors prices rose 0.2% (1.3% y/y) after falling 0.4%. Excluding this sector, capital goods prices were unchanged (1.9% y/y) after a 0.2% rise. Prices of motor vehicles and parts eased 0.1% (+0.8% y/y) for the second straight month. Prices of consumer goods excluding automobiles held steady (+0.8% y/y) after a 0.1% dip in the prior 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.

Do Import Tariffs Help Reduce Trade Deficits? from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) Jul Jun May Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Imports - All Commodities 0.0 -0.1 0.9 4.8 2.9 -3.3 -10.2
  Petroleum & Petroleum Products 0.9 1.4 7.8 43.6 26.6 -19.7 -46.0
  Nonpetroleum -0.1 -0.4 0.1 1.3 1.1 -1.5 -2.8
Exports - All Commodities -0.5 0.2 0.7 4.3 2.4 -3.2 -6.3
  Agricultural -5.3 -1.0 1.6 -2.0 1.5 -5.4 -13.3
  Nonagricultural 0.0 0.4 0.6 5.0 2.5 -3.0 -5.5
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