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Economy in Brief

Import Price Gain Is Firm With Higher Oil Prices
by Tom Moeller   September 15, 2010

U.S. import prices during August posted their largest one-month increase since April. The 0.6% gain followed a modest 0.1% July uptick that was revised from 0.2%. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.2% gain during last month. A 2.1% increase (8.5% y/y) in petroleum prices provided most of the force behind the latest increase while excluding petroleum, import prices rose 0.2% after the unrevised 0.2% July decline.

With the latest gain, energy prices have risen a modest 2.2% since December after last year's 78.6% increase from December-to-December. So far this month, Brent crude oil prices averaged $78.08 per barrel compared to $78.61 in August and $74.55 in December. Non-oil import prices rose 0.2% during August and were up 1.1% 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.)

Imported food & beverage prices jumped 2.2% last month (8.6% y/y) and that compares to a 2.8% decline during 2009. Also, prices for non-auto consumer goods rose 0.2% (0.3% y/y) and reversed the July decline. Appliance prices fell 0.% y/y after last year's modest increase. Furniture prices were down 2.4% y/y while apparel prices rose just 0.2%. Imported auto prices rose 1.7% y/y after a 0.4% increase last year and capital goods ticked down 0.3% y/y. Computer & peripherals prices fell 3.2% from last August while excluding computers, capital goods prices rose 0.7% y/y, repeating the 2009 increase.

Total export prices rose 0.8% last month after declines during the prior two months. The gain reflected a 4.2% surge (+6.4% y/y) in agricultural export prices and a 0.5% rise in non-agricultural goods prices (3.9% 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, %) August July June July Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Import - All Commodities 0.6 0.1 -1.3 4.1 -11.5 11.5 4.2
  Petroleum 2.1 0.9 -4.2 8.5 -35.9 37.7 11.6
  Nonpetroleum 0.2 -0.2 -0.4 3.1 -4.1 5.3 2.7
Export - All Commodities 0.8 -0.2 -0.7 4.1 -4.6 6.0 4.9
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