Prices for U.S. imports decreased 1.0 percent in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, after a 1.9-percent fall the previous month. Lower fuel prices drove the decline in December, and nonfuel prices recorded no change. U.S. export prices fell 0.6 percent in December following a 0.8-percent drop in November.

Imports

U.S. import prices declined 1.0 percent in December, after decreasing 1.9 percent in November and rising 0.5 percent in October. The November drop was the largest monthly decline since the index fell 3.2 percent in January 2015. Prices for imports decreased 0.6 percent in 2018 following a 3.2-percent increase the previous year. The decline in 2018 was the first calendar-year drop since import prices fell 8.3 percent in 2015.

Fuel Imports: Prices for import fuel declined 9.2 percent in December, after a 13.3-percent drop the previous month. The December decrease was driven by an 11.6-percent decline in petroleum prices which more than offset a 30.3-percent advance in natural gas prices. Import fuel prices fell 10.4 percent in 2018 following a 21.8-percent increase the previous year. The 2018 decline is the first calendar-year decrease since 2015, when import fuel prices fell 41.0 percent. In 2018, a 14.0-percent drop in petroleum prices more than offset a 67.6-percent increase in prices for natural gas.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Prices for nonfuel imports recorded no change in December, after declining 0.3 percent in November. Higher prices for consumer goods; automotive vehicles; and foods, feeds, and beverages offset price declines for capital goods and nonfuel industrial supplies and materials. Nonfuel import prices advanced 0.5 percent in 2018 following a 1.3-percent rise in 2017. The price index for nonfuel imports has not recorded a calendar-year decline since a 3.4-percent drop in 2015. In 2018, higher prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; consumer goods; and automotive vehicles drove the increase in nonfuel import prices.

Export Prices

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

Image placeholder title

U.S. export prices fell 0.6 percent in December following a 0.8-percent decrease in November. Nonagricultural prices declined in December, more than offsetting higher prices for agricultural goods. Despite the December downturn, U.S. export prices increased 1.1 percent in 2018. The price index for U.S. exports has not recorded a calendar-year decrease since falling 6.6 percent in 2015.

Agricultural Exports: Prices for agricultural exports advanced 3.9 percent in December, the largest increase for the index since a 4.8-percent rise in August 2012. The December advance follows a 1.7-percent rise in November and a 0.1-percent drop in October. Price increases for soybeans and nuts contributed to the December advance, more than offsetting lower fruit prices. Agricultural export prices rose 2.5 percent in 2018, after increasing 1.9 percent in 2017. The 2018 increase was the largest calendar-year advance since the price index for agricultural exports rose 13.4 percent in 2012.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture: Prices for nonagricultural exports decreased 1.1 percent in December, after declining 1.0 percent in November and rising 0.5 percent in October. The December drop matched the decrease in December 2015; those were the largest monthly declines since the index fell 1.3 percent in August 2015. Lower prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials led the December decrease, more than offsetting rising consumer goods and automotive vehicles prices. Despite the December decline, nonagricultural export prices advanced 1.0 percent in 2018.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Import and Export Prices Plunge

Economists underestimated the magnitude of a decline in import prices and missed the boat entirely on export prices.

Import Prices Flat, Export Prices Decline 0.5%

The strong dollar dampers the tariff impact on import prices except energy. Export prices decline led by agriculture.

Export Prices +0.6%, Import Prices +0.3%

Export prices advancing faster than import prices. YoY import prices are up 3.3% but China, Japan, Mexico barely moved.

Agricultural Export Prices Down 2.5% in Two Months, Down 5.3% Year-Over-Year

Import and export prices continue to decline. Agriculture leads the way on export prices, energy on import prices.

Import and Export Prices Unexpectedly Dive

Headline price inflation numbers on imports and exports both came in well below consensus estimates.

Import and Export Prices Surge on Rising Energy Prices

As with yesterday's Producer Price Report, a surge in import and export prices is energy related.

Import and Export Price Weakness Continues in July

Import and export prices fell for the month. Year--over-Year comparisons are increasingly negative.

Export Prices Have Largest Monthly Decline Since 2015

Export prices declined a steep 1.1% in February the most since 2015. Import prices fell 0.5%.

Little Signs of Life in Import and Export Prices

Import prices rose only 0.1% in December despite a 1.8% jump in energy. Export prices fell 0.1%.