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U.S. Import Prices Drop, Export Prices Rise In December

Tue, 01/14/2014 - 9:46am
Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. import prices recorded no change in December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, following declines of 0.9 percent in November and 0.6 percent in October. In December, higher fuel prices offset declining nonfuel prices. U.S. export prices advanced 0.4 percent in December, after edging up 0.1 percent the previous month.

Imports

All Imports: Import prices were unchanged in December, after falling 1.6 percent over the previous 2 months. Decreasing fuel prices drove the overall declines in import prices in November and October. The price index for U.S. imports decreased 1.3 percent in 2013 following a 2.0 percent decline in 2012. Falling fuel and nonfuel prices contributed to the 2013 decline in overall import prices.

Fuel Imports: The price index for import fuel increased 0.4 percent in December, after declining 4.3 percent in November and 3.3 percent in October. The December upturn in fuel prices was led by a 15.8 percent increase in natural gas prices that more than offset a 0.1 percent drop in petroleum prices. Fuel prices fell 1.7 percent in 2013 following a 7.9 percent decrease the previous year. The price indexes for both petroleum and natural gas fell in 2013, declining 1.5 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Natural gas prices fell over the past year despite rising 35.5 percent over the final quarter of 2013. 

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel import prices edged down 0.1 percent in December, after recording no change in November. Lower prices for each of the major finished goods categories and nonfuel industrial supplies and materials contributed to the December drop in nonfuel import prices. Despite movement over the last 4 months of 2013, the price index for nonfuel imports declined 1.2 percent over the past year, after recording no change in 2012.

Table A. Percent change in import and export price indexes, selected categories

Month

IMPORTS

EXPORTS

All
imports

Fuel
imports

Nonfuel
imports

All
exports

Agri-
cultural
exports

Non-
agricultural
exports

 

2012

 

December

-0.6

-2.2

-0.1

-0.1

0.1

-0.2

 

2013

 

January

0.5

1.9

0.2

0.4

-1.2

0.5

February

0.9

3.6

0.1

0.7

2.0

0.6

March

-0.1

0.0

-0.1

-0.5

-1.8

-0.3

April

-0.7

-2.4

-0.2

-0.6

-2.1

-0.5

May

-0.6

-1.7

-0.4

-0.5

1.1

-0.7

June

-0.4

-0.7

-0.3

-0.1

0.8

-0.2

July

0.1

1.7

-0.4

-0.2

-0.3

-0.2

August

0.4

2.6

-0.2

-0.5

-4.2

0.0

September

0.3

1.0

0.1

0.4

0.6

0.3

October

-0.6

(r)-3.3

0.1

-0.6

(r)-1.3

(r)-0.5

November

(r)-0.9

(r)-4.3

0.0

0.1

-0.2

0.1

December

0.0

0.4

-0.1

0.4

0.4

0.3

 

Dec. 2011 to 2012

-2.0

-7.9

0.0

1.1

13.4

-0.3

Dec. 2012 to 2013

-1.3

-1.7

-1.2

-1.0

-6.3

-0.5

Exports

All Exports: Export prices rose 0.4 percent in December following a 0.1 percent advance in November. Higher agricultural and nonagricultural prices contributed to the December increase in overall export prices. Despite rising in 3 of the past 4 months, the price index for U.S. exports fell 1.0 percent over the past year, after increasing 1.1 percent in 2012.

Agricultural Exports: Agricultural prices advanced 0.4 percent in December, after declining 0.2 percent the previous month. The December increase was driven by a 4.5 percent rise in soybean prices that more than offset lower vegetable and wheat prices. The price index for agricultural exports fell 6.3 percent in 2013 following a 13.4 percent increase the previous year. The 2013 drop was led by a 36.4 percent decline in corn prices, a 19.3 percent decrease in wheat prices, and an 8.9 percent fall in soybean prices.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture: The price index for nonagricultural exports rose 0.3 percent in December following a 0.1 percent advance in November. The December increase was driven by higher nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials prices. Despite the recent upturn, prices for nonagricultural exports fell for the second consecutive year in 2013, declining 0.5 percent, after a 0.3 percent drop in 2012.

Import Prices

Imports by Locality of Origin: Import prices from China were unchanged in December, after ticking up 0.1 percent in November. Prices for imports from China declined for the second consecutive year in 2013, decreasing 0.8 percent following a 0.6 percent drop in 2012. The 2013 decline was the largest calendar-year decrease since the index fell 1.8 percent in 2009. The price index for imports from Japan declined 0.3 percent in December and 3.4 percent over the past year. The 2013 drop was the largest calendar-year decline for the index since a 5.2 percent decrease in 1997. Prices for imports from the European Union and Mexico also decreased in December, each declining 0.2 percent. In contrast, import prices from Canada ticked up 0.1 percent in December.  

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: Nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices fell 0.3 percent in December, led by lower prices for gold and other precious metals. Lower metals prices also were the main contributor to a 5.0 percent drop in the price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials over the past year. 

Finished Goods: Each of the major finished goods categories recorded declines in both December and over 2013. Prices for consumer goods declined 0.2 percent in December and 0.4 percent over the past year. Capital goods prices edged down 0.1 percent in December and fell 0.9 percent over the past 12 months. The price index for automotive vehicles decreased 0.1 percent in December and 1.4 percent in 2013.

Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: Foods, feeds, and beverages prices rose 0.6 percent in December, and 4.1 percent in 2013. The December increase was driven by higher vegetable and coffee prices. 

Transportation Services: Import air passenger fares rose 7.1 percent in December, after a 3.4 percent advance in November and a 4.3 percent increase in October. The December increase was led by higher Asian and Latin American/Caribbean fares. Import air passenger fares advanced 8.2 percent in 2013. Import air freight prices fell 0.4 percent in December, while increasing 0.9 percent over the past year.

Export Prices

Nonagricultural Industrial Supplies and Materials: Nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials prices rose 1.0 percent in December as a 4.3 percent increase in fuel prices more than offset lower prices for gold and other precious metals. Despite the December increase, the price index for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials fell 1.6 percent in 2013.

Finished Goods: Finished goods prices were mixed in December as the price indexes for capital goods and automotive vehicles fell 0.1 percent while consumer goods prices rose 0.1 percent. In 2013, capital goods prices and automotive vehicles prices increased 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, while consumer goods prices declined 1.4 percent.

Transportation Services: Export air passenger prices increased 9.4 percent in December following declines in each of the 3 previous months. The index for export air passenger fares rose 4.1 percent in 2013, led by a 7.6 percent advance in Latin American/Caribbean fares. Export air freight prices declined 0.2 percent in December and rose 0.3 percent in 2013.

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