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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Rise Less Than Expected While Export Prices Gain More Than Expected in May
by Winnie Tapasanun  June 15, 2022

• Import prices increase 0.6% with fuel prices up 7.5%.

• Excluding fuels, import prices decline 0.3%, down for the first time since Nov. '20.

• Export prices advance 2.8% with ag export prices up 2.1% and nonag export prices up 2.9%.

Import prices rose 0.6% m/m (11.7% y/y) in May after upwardly rises of 0.4% in April (0.0% initially) and 3.0% in March (+2.9% previously), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The May rise was the fifth consecutive monthly gain and the eighth in nine months. Export prices rose 2.8% last month (18.9% y/y) after upwardly revised gains of 0.8% in April (+0.6% initially) and 4.2% in March (+4.1% previously). The May m/m rise in export prices was the fifth straight monthly gain and the 23rd in 24 months. The Action Economics Forecast survey had expected rises of 1.2% in import prices and 1.3% in export prices in May.

The rise in import prices in May was led by a 7.5% jump (73.5% y/y) in imported fuel prices following an upwardly revised 0.5% April gain (-2.4% initially). The key contributors to the gain in imported fuel costs were m/m rises of 26.5% in natural gas (150.5% y/y), 14.2% in fuel oil (86.6% y/y), 10.9% in other petroleum products (63.4% y/y), 6.7% in petroleum & petroleum products (71.0% y/y), and 4.7% in crude oil (69.8% y/y). Nonfuel import prices fell 0.3% (+5.9% y/y), the first monthly fall since November 2020, after a 0.4% increase, due to m/m price declines of 1.7% in nonfuel industrial supplies & materials (+13.1% y/y), 0.2% in foods, feeds & beverages (+11.9% y/y), and 0.1% in consumer goods ex autos (+2.7% y/y). To the upside, import prices for automotive vehicles & parts grew 0.3% (3.1% y/y), the 17th straight m/m gain, after a 0.2% increase. Import prices for capital goods rose 0.3% (4.4% y/y), the eighth successive m/m rise, on top of a 0.5% gain.

The May rise in export prices reflected gains in both agricultural and nonagricultural export prices. Agricultural export prices rose 2.1% (16.7% y/y) in May, the eighth consecutive m/m rise, after a 1.2% gain in April. Nonagricultural export prices grew 2.9% (19.3% y/y), the 18th m/m gain in 19 months, after a 0.7% increase. Industrial supplies & materials export prices advanced 5.6% (37.6% y/y), the fifth successive m/m gain, after a 0.9% increase. Export prices for foods, feeds & beverages rose 2.2% (15.9% y/y), the eighth straight m/m rise, on top of a 1.0% gain. Capital goods export prices grew 0.3% (4.9% y/y), the 17th consecutive m/m gain, after a 0.7% increase. Auto export prices were up 0.2% (4.2% y/y), the eighth successive monthly increase, after a 0.7% rise. Nonauto consumer goods export prices, however, fell 0.3% (+4.3% y/y), the first m/m fall since September 2021, following a 0.5% gain.

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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