Import Prices Flat, Export Prices Up 0.3%: Pass-Through Inflation Weak
The BLS reports U.S. Import Prices Record No Change in March; Export Prices up 0.3%.
- All Imports: Import prices recorded no change in March following rises of 0.3 percent in February and 0.8 percent in January. The index has not declined on a monthly basis since decreasing 0.2 percent in July 2017. Prices for U.S. imports rose 3.6 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. The last 12-month decline in import prices was a 0.2-percent drop for the period ended October 2016.
- Fuel Imports: Fuel prices fell for the second consecutive month, declining 1.6 percent in March following a 1.0-percent drop in February. The March decrease was the largest monthly decline since the index dropped 3.6 percent in June 2017. Lower prices for both petroleum and natural gas drove the decline in fuel prices. Prices for imported petroleum declined 1.3 percent and natural gas fell 9.5 percent. Despite the decrease in March, fuel import prices advanced 18.7 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. The price index for petroleum imports rose 19.4 percent over the past 12 months. Prices for imported natural gas increased 20.0 percent over the same period.
- All Imports Excluding Fuel: Prices for nonfuel imports rose 0.2 percent in March, following increases of 0.5 percent in February and January. Contributing to the March advance were higher import prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; capital goods; and foods, feeds, and beverages, which more than offset declining prices for automotive vehicles and consumer goods. Nonfuel import prices advanced 2.1 percent on a 12-month basis for the second consecutive month, the largest over-the-year increases since a 2.4-percent advance in February 2012. An 8.0-percent rise in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices drove the 12-month advance in March.
- All Exports: Prices for U.S. exports rose for the ninth consecutive month in March, advancing 0.3 percent. Increasing prices for agricultural exports drove the monthly advance, more than offsetting lower nonagricultural export prices. U.S. export prices increased 3.4 percent over the 12-month period ended in March and have not recorded an over-the-year drop since a 0.2-percent decline in November 2016.
- Agricultural Exports: The price index for agricultural exports advanced 3.4 percent in March following a 0.6-percent rise in February. The March increase is the largest monthly advance since agricultural export prices rose 4.8 percent in August 2012. Higher prices for soybeans and wheat contributed to the monthly advance, increasing 7.8 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively. The price index for agricultural exports rose 3.0 percent over the past 12 months, driven by a 6.5-percent increase in meat prices.
- All Exports Excluding Agriculture: Nonagricultural export prices ticked down 0.1 percent in March, after rising 0.2 percent in February and 0.9 percent in January. Declining prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials more than offset increases in capital goods and automotive vehicles export prices. Prices for nonagricultural exports advanced 3.4 percent between March 2017 and March 2018, as the price indexes for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials, capital goods, consumer goods, and automotive vehicles all increased.
US Dollar Index
In the last 12 months the US dollar index is down 9.5%. Import prices are up 3.6%. Pass-through inflation from the falling dollar has been very weak.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock