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Economy in Brief

Import Prices Strengthen With Higher Oil Costs; Export Prices Move Up As Well
by Tom Moeller  March 14, 2019

The Labor Department reported that import prices rose 0.6% during February (-1.3 y/y) after improving 0.1% in January, revised from a 0.5% decline. A 0.3% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

The rise in import prices last month was paced by a 4.7% increase (-7.9% y/y) in petroleum costs which followed a 7.1% gain. Nonpetroleum import costs edged 0.1% higher, but still were down an increased 0.5% y/y. Industrial supplies & materials costs rose 2.2% (-3.2% y/y) after a 1.1% rise, but excluding petroleum, they gained 0.8% (0.1% y/y) after a 2.7% drop. Capital goods prices eased 0.1% (-0.7% y/y) after holding steady in January. Motor vehicle & parts prices were unchanged (-0.5% y/y) after a 0.2% decline. Nonauto consumer goods prices rose 0.3% (0.1% y/y) and reversed the prior month's decline.

Export prices also improved 0.6% (0.3% y/y) after three months of sharp decline. A 0.1% uptick had been expected. Agricultural commodities prices rose 0.3% last month (-0.2% y/y) after a 2.1% weakening. Nonagricultural export costs strengthened 0.7% (0.3% y/y) after three straight months of decline. Food, feeds & beverage prices rose 0.3% (0.4% y/y) after a 2.0% fall. The cost of industrial supplies & materials rebounded 1.6% (-2.2% y/y) after three months of sharp decline. Capital goods prices rose 0.2% (1.6% y/y) after a 0.4% rise, but the cost of computers, peripherals and semiconductors fell 0.4% (-0.7% y/y). Motor vehicle & parts prices improved 0.4% (0.6% y/y) after a 0.1% uptick. Nonauto consumer goods prices increased 0.3% (0.0% y/y) and reversed January's decline.

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, %) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Imports - All Commodities 0.6 0.1 -1.4 -1.3 3.1 2.9 -3.3
  Petroleum & Petroleum Products 4.7 7.1 -15.3 -7.9 22.0 26.6 -19.7
  Nonpetroleum 0.1 -0.6 0.2 -0.5 1.3 1.1 -1.5
Exports - All Commodities 0.6 -0.5 -0.7 0.3 3.4 2.4 -3.2
  Agricultural 0.3 -2.1 3.7 -0.2 0.6 1.5 -5.4
  Nonagricultural 0.7 -0.3 -1.1 0.3 3.7 2.5 -3.0
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