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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Price Gain Is Modest
by Tom Moeller August 12, 2010

With a 0.2% July increase, U.S. import prices recovered just a piece of the prior two months' sharp decline. Moreover, the y/y gain fell to its least since November while May's 0.8% m/m drop was deepened from 0.5%. July's increase was less than Consensus expectations for a 0.4% gain. Petroleum prices gained 2.0% (14.4% y/y) while excluding petroleum import prices fell by 0.2% after a deepened 0.7% June decline.

Despite July's increase, energy prices are roughly unchanged from December after last year's 78.6% increase from December-to-December. Last week, Brent crude oil prices of $81.26 per barrel compared to $76.10 in July. Non-oil import prices fell 0.2% in July, down for the second straight month and prices are up just 0.7% since year-end. (The y/y change in non-oil import prices during the last ten years has had a negative 81% correlation with the nominal trade-weighted exchange value of the US dollar vs. major currencies.)

Food & beverage prices ticked 0.4% higher (8.0% y/y) and that compares to a 2.8% decline during 2009. Also, the 0.2% decline (+0.1% y/y) in prices for nonauto consumer goods compared to a 0.3% decline for all of last year. Appliance prices fell 0.6% y/y after last year's modest increase. Furniture prices fell 3.3% while apparel prices were unchanged. Imported auto prices fell 0.6% y/y after a 0.1% dip last year and capital goods slipped 0.5%. Excluding computers, capital goods prices rose 0.3% y/y following a 0.7% gain last year.

Total export prices slipped 0.2% last month after a 0.7% June decline. The decline reflected a 0.2% dip (+4.1% y/y) in non-agricultural export prices and a 0.1% slip in agricultural goods prices (+2.4% y/y).

The import and export price series can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures are available in the USINT database.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) July June May July Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Import - All Commodities 0.2 -1.3 -0.8 4.9 -11.5 11.5 4.2
  Petroleum 2.0 -5.2 -5.3 14.4 -35.9 37.7 11.6
  Nonpetroleum -0.2 -0.5 0.5 3.1 -4.1 5.3 2.7
Export - All Commodities -0.2 -0.7 0.5 3.9 -4.6 6.0 4.9
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