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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import and Export Prices Fall for the Third Straight Month in September
by Winnie Tapasanun  October 14, 2022

• Import prices drop 1.2% w/ imported fuel prices down 7.5%.

• Excluding fuels, import prices decline 0.4%, down for the fifth straight month.

• Export prices fall 0.8% w/ ag export prices down 1.0% and nonag export prices down 0.9%.

• Year-over-year import and export price growth rates decelerate in September vs. August; import prices 6.0% vs. 7.8% and export prices 9.5% vs. 10.7%, their lowest since February 2021.

A slowdown in global demand continued to weigh down U.S. import and export prices. Import prices fell 1.2% m/m in September after declines of 1.1% in August (-1.0% initially) and 1.4% in July (-1.5% previously), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The September reading was the third consecutive monthly fall to the lowest index level since February. The y/y rate decelerated to 6.0%, the lowest since February 2021, from August's 7.8%. Export prices slid 0.8%, the third straight m/m slide, after drops of 1.7% in August (-1.6% initially) and 3.7% (unrevised) in July. The y/y rate eased to 9.5%, the lowest since February 2021, from August's 10.7%. The Action Economics Forecast survey had expected m/m declines of 1.1% in import prices and 1.0% in export prices in September.

The fall in import prices in September was led by a 7.5% drop (+32.3% y/y) in imported fuel prices after falling at the same pace in August (-6.8% initially). The September m/m reading was the third successive m/m decline following six consecutive m/m advances. The drop in imported fuel costs reflected m/m decreases of 14.8% in other petroleum products (+28.8% y/y), 10.5% in natural gas (+49.1% y/y), 9.0% in crude oil (+24.3% y/y), and 7.5% in petroleum & petroleum products (+31.5% y/y). Fuel oil import prices, however, rebounded 9.5% (82.1% y/y) following a 7.5% August decline. Nonfuel import prices slid 0.4% (+3.4% y/y) in September, the fifth consecutive m/m slide, on top of a 0.2% decline in August, due to a 1.9% price drop (down for the fifth straight month) in nonfuel industrial supplies & materials (+7.1% y/y). Import prices for capital goods (+3.2% y/y) and automotive vehicles & parts (+2.9% y/y) were unchanged m/m in September following their small declines in August, while consumer goods ex autos held steady (+1.7% y/y) after two successive m/m gains. To the upside, import prices for foods, feeds & beverages rebounded 0.2% (3.4% y/y) in September following four straight m/m increases.

The September slide in export prices reflected falls in both agricultural and nonagricultural export prices. Agricultural export prices slid 1.0% (+12.6% y/y) in September, the third consecutive m/m slide, after a 0.5% decline in August. Nonagricultural export prices fell 0.9% (+9.2% y/y), the third straight m/m fall, after a 1.8% August drop. Industrial supplies & materials export prices decreased 1.8% (+15.1% y/y) in September, the third successive m/m decline. Export prices for foods, feeds & beverages fell 1.0% (+11.0% y/y), down for the fourth consecutive month following eight straight monthly gains. Nonauto consumer goods export prices declined 0.3% (+3.9% y/y), reversing a 0.3% August increase. In contrast, capital goods export prices were up 0.2% (4.1% y/y) after a 0.1% August downtick and a 0.5% July rise. Auto export prices grew 0.2% (5.2% y/y) in September, continuing their string of gains since October 2021.

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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