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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import & Export Prices Strengthen; Petroleum Prices Ease
by Tom Moeller  March 9, 2017

Import prices edged 0.2% higher (4.6% y/y) during February following a 0.6% January increase, revised from 0.4%. A 0.1% uptick had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Petroleum import prices eased 0.7%, though they remained three-quarters higher y/y. Nonpetroleum import prices improved 0.3% (0.8% y/y), the largest increase since July. Industrial supplies & materials prices excluding petroleum jumped 1.4% (7.0% y/y), strong for the fourth straight month. Foods, feeds & beverage prices rebounded 1.0% last month (4.4% y/y), following declines in three of the prior four months. Nonauto consumer goods prices improved 0.7%, but the y/y decline accelerated to -0.7%. Motor vehicle & parts prices remained unchanged both m/m and y/y, after declines in the prior two months. Capital goods prices also were steady (-1.0% y/y) after declining from 2013 through 2016.

Export prices improved 0.3% following a 0.2% rise. The y/y increase of 3.1% follows declines in the last four years. A 0.1% uptick had been expected.

Agricultural commodity prices jumped 1.4% (1.6% y/y), the strongest gain since June. Nonagricultural export prices improved 0.3% last month, and the y/y increase surged to 3.3% after declines dating back to 2012. Foods, feeds & beverage prices jumped 1.4% (1.9% y/y), also after years of decline. Industrial supplies & materials costs gained 0.3% (11.5% y/y) as petroleum prices strengthened 41.0% y/y. Nonagricultural supplies & materials prices excluding fuels & building materials jumped 1.5% m/m (4.4% y/y) after sharp declines dating back to 2012. Capital goods prices improved 0.3% (0.6% y/y), but computer & peripheral product prices declined 3.1% y/y. Motor vehicle & parts prices remained unchanged (-0.2% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods prices eased 0.2% and the y/y decline accelerated to -2.6%.

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.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Imports - All Commodities 0.2 0.6 0.4 4.6 -3.3 -10.2 -1.1
  Petroleum -0.7 6.9 5.9 73.3 -19.7 -46.0 -5.6
  Nonpetroleum 0.3 0.1 -0.1 0.8 -1.5 -2.8 0.1
Exports - All Commodities 0.3 0.2 0.4 3.1 -3.2 -6.3 -0.5
  Agricultural 1.4 0.1 -0.2 1.6 -5.4 -13.3 -2.7
  Nonagricultural 0.3 0.2 0.4 3.3 -3.0 -5.5 -0.3
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