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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import Prices Strengthen as Oil Rebounds
by Tom Moeller  May 10, 2017

Import prices increased 0.5% during April (4.1% y/y) following a 0.1% March uptick, revised from -0.2%. It was the strongest rise in three months. A 0.2% gain had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Petroleum import prices increased 1.6% (43.8% y/y) following a 0.4% decline. Nonpetroleum import prices improved 0.4%, the firmest gain in nine months. The y/y increase accelerated to 1.4%, the strongest twelve-month rise in five years. Industrial supplies & materials prices excluding petroleum strengthened 0.9% (7.9% y/y), strong for the sixth consecutive month. Motor vehicle & parts prices jumped 0.5% (0.4% y/y) after five years of falling prices. Capital goods prices ticked 0.1% higher (-0.3% y/y) after declining from 2013 through 2016. Capital goods prices excluding computers, peripherals & semiconductors also rose 0.1% (-0.1% y/y). Consumer goods prices excluding autos gained 0.1%, with the y/y rise of 0.2% contrasting with price deflation during the prior two years.

Export prices improved an expected 0.2% (3.0% y/y) following a 0.1% uptick, revised from 0.2%.

Agricultural commodity prices increased 0.3% (4.6% y/y) after a 0.8% gain. Nonagricultural export prices improved 0.1% for the second straight month and the 2.9% y/y increase followed declines in each year since 2012. Foods, feeds & beverage prices strengthened 0.8% (5.1% y/y) following three years of decline. Industrial supplies & materials costs fell 0.2% (+9.4% y/y), as petroleum prices strengthened 34.4% y/y. Nonagricultural supplies & materials prices excluding fuels & building materials declined 0.9% (+2.4% y/y) and reversed the prior month's gain. Capital goods prices improved 0.2% (0.6% y/y) while computer & peripheral product prices rose 0.6% (-1.8% y/y). Motor vehicle & parts prices improved 0.3% both m/m and y/y. Nonauto consumer goods prices held steady, and the 2.1% y/y decline also was fairly constant.

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, %) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Imports - All Commodities 0.5 0.1 0.3 4.1 -3.3 -10.2 -1.1
  Petroleum 1.6 -0.4 0.9 43.8 -19.7 -46.0 -5.6
  Nonpetroleum 0.4 0.1 0.3 1.4 -1.5 -2.8 0.1
Exports - All Commodities 0.2 0.1 0.3 3.0 -3.2 -6.3 -0.5
  Agricultural 0.3 0.8 1.4 4.6 -5.4 -13.3 -2.7
  Nonagricultural 0.1 0.1 0.3 2.9 -3.0 -5.5 -0.3
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