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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import and Export Prices Fall
by Tom Moeller  March 13, 2020

Import prices declined during 0.5% (-1.2% y/y) during February after holding steady in January. A 1.0% decline had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. These figures are not seasonally adjusted and do not include import duties.

A 7.6% decline (-5.5% y/y) in petroleum & petroleum product prices accounted for the total's drop. It followed little change in January. Nonpetroleum prices improved 0.2% (-0.8 y/y) after a 0.1% rise.

Higher prices of foods, feeds & beverages provided strength to the import price total with a 1.5% (0.8% y/y) rise. Prices of industrial materials excluding petroleum improved 0.6% (-1.1% y/y). Capital goods prices rose 0.1% (-1.7% y/y) for a second straight month as computer, peripheral & semiconductor costs rose 0.2% (-6.6% y/y). Capital goods prices excluding these technology products held steady (0.3% y/y). Auto, parts & engine prices also were stable (0.1% y/y) as were nonauto consumer goods prices (-0.6% y/y) for the second straight month.

Export prices declined 1.1% last month (-1.3% y/y) following a 0.6% January rise. A 0.4% easing had been expected.

The decline was paced by a 2.7% drop (+0.2% y/y) in agricultural product prices. Nonagricultural product prices also weakened by 1.0% (-1.6% y/y). Prices for foods, feeds & beverages dropped 2.9% (+0.9% y/y) Industrial materials prices eased 3.1% (-5.2% y/y) as petroleum product costs fell 10.9% (-12.2% y/y). Capital goods prices rose 0.3% (0.5% y/y) as computer, peripheral & semiconductor prices gained 0.2% (-3.6% y/y), Excluding these products, the cost of capital goods rose 0.3% (1.4% y/y). Auto & auto product export prices improved 0.2% (-0.3% y/y) while nonauto consumer goods  prices rose 0.2% (0.5% 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, %) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Imports - All Commodities -0.5 0.0 0.2 -1.2 -1.3 3.1 2.9
  Petroleum & Petroleum Products -7.6 -0.0 0.5 -5.5 -2.6 22.0 25.6
  Nonpetroleum  0.2 0.1 0.2 -0.8 -1.1 1.3 1.1
Exports - All Commodities -1.1 0.6 -0.2 -1.3 -0.9 3.4 2.4
  Agricultural -2.7 2.1 -0.1 0.2 -0.4 0.6 1.5
  Nonagricultural -1.0 0.6 -0.2 -1.6 -0.9 3.7 2.5
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