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Economy in Brief

U.S. Import and Export Prices Show Little Change
by Carol Stone, CBE  November 16, 2017

Import prices rose just 0.2% in October (2.5% y/y) following September's 0.8%, revised to a bit more than the initial 0.7% initially reported. The October increase compared to a 0.4% rise expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. These figures are not seasonally adjusted.

The gain in petroleum import prices slowed considerably in October to 1.7% from September's 6.3%, making the y/y increase 14.9% after 20.1% in September. Nonpetroleum import prices edged up just 0.1% (1.4% y/y), following 0.4% in September. Among end-use categories, industrial supplies and materials prices excluding petroleum rose 0.6% (7.1% y/y) after a 0.7% rise [this breakout within the industrial supplies category "excluding petroleum" appears in the USINT database]. Other categories were slower: imports of capital goods did rise 0.2% (0.6% y/y) after being unchanged in September. But prices in other groups saw declines. Foods, feeds and beverages fell 0.2% (3.1% y/y) following a 1.8% increase in September. Automotive vehicles, parts and engines were also down 0.2% (-0.5% y/y) in October after September's slim 0.1% rise. And consumer goods other than automotive vehicles were off 0.1% (-0.1% y/y), following a similar 0.1% decrease in September.

Export prices were unchanged in October (2.7% y/y) after a 0.7% rise, revised from 0.8%. This was noticeably weaker than the Action Economics Survey, in which a 0.5% gain was anticipated.

In October, total exports saw the reverse of September's mix of prices between agricultural and nonagricultural goods. After declining in September by 0.7%, agricultural prices rebounded 1.9% last month (3.5% y/y). Nonagricultural goods prices, in contrast, fell 0.3% (2.5% y/y), after September's 0.9% gain. Among the end-use categories for exports, overall foods, feeds and beverage prices surged 2.2% (4.2% y/y) after falling 0.6% the month before. Price increases also marked the capital goods category, up 0.3% (1.6% y/y) after a more modest 0.1% rise in September. And consumer goods other than automotive rose 0.1% (-0.7% y/y) after being unchanged the month before. There were decreases in October in industrial supplies and materials, 1.0%, following 2.7% in September; the y/y move was still strong at 5.8%. And automotive vehicles, parts and engines saw a 0.2% decrease (0.4% y/y) after a slim 0.1% rise in September.

The import and export price series can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed breakdowns into individual types of commodities, equipment and many types of nondurable goods are available in the USINT database. The expectations figure from the Action Economics Forecast Survey is in the AS1REPNA database.

Import/Export Prices (NSA, %) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Imports - All Commodities 0.2 0.8 0.6 2.5 -3.3 -10.2 -1.1
  Petroleum 1.7 6.3 4.4 14.9 -19.7 -46.0 -5.6
  Nonpetroleum 0.1 0.4 0.2 1.4 -1.5 -2.8 0.1
Exports - All Commodities 0.0 0.7 0.7 2.7 -3.2 -6.3 -0.5
  Agricultural 1.9 -0.7 0.1 3.5 -5.4 -13.3 -2.7
  Nonagricultural -0.3 0.9 0.8 2.5 -3.0 -5.5 -0.3
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