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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Hold Steady While Export Prices Rise in April
by Winnie Tapasanun  May 13, 2022

• Import prices are unchanged with fuel prices down 2.4%.

• Excluding fuels, import prices increase 0.4%, up for the eighth straight month.

• Export prices rise 0.6% with ag export prices up 1.1% and nonag export prices up 0.5%.

Import prices held steady m/m (+12.0% y/y) in April after upwardly rises of 2.9% in March (+2.6% initially) and 1.8% in February (+1.6% previously), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 0.0% m/m April rate followed three consecutive monthly gains and a 0.4% December decline. Export prices rose 0.6% last month (18.0% y/y) after revised gains of 4.1% in March (+4.5% initially) and 3.2% in February (+3.0% previously). The m/m April rise in export prices was the fourth straight monthly gain and the 22nd in 23 months. The Action Economics Forecast survey had expected for both export and import prices to rise 0.7% in April.

The unchanged monthly rate in import prices in April was led by a 2.4% decline (+64.3% y/y) in imported fuel prices following an upwardly revised 17.3% March surge (+14.6% initially). The key contributors to the decline in imported fuel costs were m/m drops of 3.2% in crude oil (+61.4% y/y), 2.9% in petroleum & petroleum products (+63.0% y/y), 2.7% in fuel oil (+69.6% y/y), and 2.0% in other petroleum products (+63.4% y/y). Natural gas, however, rebounded 6.8% (102.2% y/y) following two consecutive m/m drops (-9.5% in March and -4.3% in February). Nonfuel import prices rose 0.4% (7.2% y/y), the eighth successive monthly rise, after a 1.2% gain, led by m/m price increases of 0.9% in foods, feeds & beverages (12.1% y/y), 0.6% in nonfuel industrial supplies & materials (21.1% y/y), 0.4% in capital goods (3.8% y/y), and 0.3% in automotive vehicles & parts (3.0% y/y). Import prices for consumer goods ex autos were unchanged m/m (+3.1% y/y) in April following 13 straight monthly rises.

The April rise in export prices reflected gains in both agricultural and nonagricultural export prices. Agricultural export prices rose 1.1% (20.9% y/y) in April, the seventh successive m/m rise, easing from a 4.3% gain in March. Nonagricultural export prices grew 0.5% (17.6% y/y), the 17th m/m gain in 18 months, after a 4.1% increase. Export prices for foods, feeds & beverages rose 0.9% (19.9% y/y), the seventh straight m/m rise, on top of a 4.7% gain. Capital goods export prices grew 0.9% (5.1% y/y), the 16th straight m/m gain, after a 0.4% increase. Auto export prices rose 0.8% (3.8% y/y) after a 0.7% rise, registering the largest of seven successive monthly gains. Nonauto consumer goods export prices were up 0.5% (5.4% y/y), the seventh consecutive m/m rise, after a 0.9% advance. Industrial supplies & materials export prices increased 0.5% (35.1% y/y), the smallest of four consecutive m/m gains, after a 7.7% advance.

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.

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