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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import and Export Prices Decline
by Gerald D. Cohen  November 15, 2019

Import prices fell a greater-than-expected 0.5% during October (-3.0% year-on-year), following a downwardly revised 0.1% gain in September (was 0.2%). The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a 0.4% decline in October. These figures are not seasonally adjusted and do not include import duties.

The decrease in import prices last month was primarily driven by a 3.7% drop in petroleum import costs (-14.7% y/y). Nonpetroleum import prices edged down 0.1% (-1.5% y/y). Among end-use categories, industrial supplies & materials costs excluding petroleum, capital goods, and nonauto consumer goods prices all decreased 0.1% (-3.1%, -1.6%, and -0.4% y/y respectively). Motor vehicle prices were unchanged (-0.8% y/y). Meanwhile, foods, feed and beverage prices declined 0.4% (-3.9% y/y).

Export prices ticked down 0.1% in October (-2.2% y/y), following an unrevised 0.2% decline in September. Forecasters anticipated -0.1%. A 0.3% decline in nonagricultural exports (-2.7% y/y) more than offset the 1.9% jump in agricultural commodities prices (2.2% y/y). Industrial supplies & materials decreased 0.5% (-8.3% y/y), capital goods prices were down 0.3% (+0.5% y/y), and nonauto consumer goods prices were down 0.2% (+0.5% y/y). Motor vehicle & parts prices were unchanged (+0.1% y/y). Meanwhile, nonagricultural food (ie fish) & distilled beverage prices rose 0.6% (1.4% y/y).

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, %) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Imports - All Commodities -0.5 0.1 -0.6 -3.0 3.1 2.9 -3.3
  Petroleum & Petroleum Products -3.7 1.5 -4.7 -14.7 22.0 26.6 -19.7
  Nonpetroleum -0.1 0.0 -0.1 -1.5 1.3 1.1 -1.5
Exports - All Commodities -0.1 -0.2 -0.6 -2.2 3.4 2.4 -3.2
  Agricultural 1.9 -1.7 -2.4 2.2 0.6 1.5 -5.4
  Nonagricultural -0.3 -0.1 -0.3 -2.7 3.7 2.5 -3.0
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