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The BLS report on Import and Export Prices for October shows prices rose on the backs of a gain in energy that won't last.

Import Prices

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Imports Import prices advanced 0.5 percent in October, the largest monthly increase since a 0.9-percent rise in May. Prices for U.S. imports rose 3.5 percent from October 2017 to October 2018 and have not recorded an overthe-year decrease in 2 years when the index declined 0.2 in October 2016.

Fuel Imports: The price index for import fuels increased 3.3 percent in October, after advancing 0.7 percent in September; the rise was the largest monthly advance since a 6.1-percent increase in May. Higher prices for both petroleum and natural gas contributed to the advance in October. Prices for petroleum increased 2.8 percent in October after rising 0.9 percent the previous month. Natural gas prices rose 24.6 percent in October, the largest monthly increase since a 25.7-percent advance in November 2017. Fuel prices increased 30.3 percent for the year ended in October, led by a 31.4-percent advance in petroleum prices. The price index for natural gas rose 24.6 percent over the past 12 months.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel import prices advanced 0.2 percent in October, after recording no change in September. Higher prices for foods, feeds, and beverages drove the October advance and more than offset decreasing prices for capital goods; consumer goods; and nonfuel industrial supplies and materials. The price index for nonfuel imports increased 0.7 percent over the past 12 months. The over-the year advance was driven mostly by a 3.4-percent rise in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials, as well as higher prices for consumer goods and automotive vehicles. In contrast, prices for capital goods and foods, feeds, and beverages fell over the past year.


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U.S. export prices advanced 0.4 percent in October, after recording no change in September. The October advance was the largest monthly increase since the index rose 0.7 percent in May. Higher nonagricultural prices more than offset decreasing agricultural prices. For the 12-month period ended in October, U.S. export prices advanced 3.1 percent.

Agricultural Exports: Agricultural export prices fell 0.3 percent in October after declining 6.1 percent over the previous 3 months. The October drop in agricultural prices was led by lower nut and cotton prices, which fell 4.6 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively. The price index for agricultural exports decreased 4.5 percent over the past year, the largest decline since the index fell 5.2 percent in May 2016. Falling prices for soybeans, nuts, and meat all contributed to the 12-month decrease.

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All Exports Excluding Agriculture: Prices for nonagricultural exports rose 0.5 percent in October following a 0.2-percent increase in September. Higher prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials drove the October advance; rising automotive vehicles prices also contributed to the increase. In contrast, consumer goods prices fell in October. The price index for nonagricultural exports increased 3.9 percent over the past 12 months and has not recorded an over-the-year decline since the index decreased 0.2 percent in November 2016.

Spotlight Agriculture

Agriculture has been under pressure as China retaliated against Trump tariffs.

The US meets with China this month but the lead-up rhetoric has been nasty. It's possible they will reach a deal but at this point I doubt it.

Another round of escalating tariffs will not do any good.

Trump think he can outlast China. Forget about it. China thinks in decades, the US in years if not months.

Spotlight Petroleum

The price of crude has crashed into bear territory, recently down a record straight 12 days. Any import price pressure based on petroleum will not last.

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Mike "Mish" Shedlock