The BLS report on Import and Export Prices shows another 1% rise in import prices in January, having also risen 1% in November.

All Imports: The price index for U.S. imports rose 1.0 percent in January, after increases of 0.2 percent in December and 1.0 percent in November. The 1.0-percent advances were the largest 1-month rises since the index increased 1.2 percent in May 2016. Import prices advanced 3.6 percent between January 2017 and January 2018.

Fuel Imports: Fuel prices increased 4.7 percent in January following a 2.9-percent advance in December and a 9.8-percent rise in November. Higher prices for petroleum and natural gas contributed to the increases in all 3 months. Prices for petroleum advanced 4.3 percent in January, after rising 2.3 percent the previous month and 9.5 percent in November. The price index for natural gas increased 20.7 percent in January following advances of 20.0 percent in December and 25.7 percent in November. Prices for fuel imports rose 19.7 percent over the past 12 months. Petroleum prices increased 20.9 percent for the year ended in January and prices for natural gas advanced 16.2 percent over the same period.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Prices for nonfuel imports advanced 0.4 percent in January, after edging down 0.1 percent the previous month. The January increase was the largest monthly advance since the index rose 0.4 percent in March 2012. The last time the index increased more than 0.4 percent was a 0.8-percent rise in April 2011. Prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; automotive vehicles; foods, feeds, and beverages; and capital goods all contributed to the January advance. The price index for nonfuel imports increased 1.9 percent over the past 12 months, the largest over-the-year rise since the index advanced 2.0 percent in March 2012. The January 12-month advance was primarily driven by rising prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials.

Export Prices

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All Exports: U.S. export prices increased 0.8 percent in January. The index has not risen by more than 0.8 percent since the index advanced 1.1 percent in May 2016. In January, the increase in nonagricultural prices more than offset a decline in agricultural prices. The price index for exports increased 3.4 percent over the past 12 months.

Agricultural Exports: Prices for agricultural exports edged down 0.1 percent in January, after falling 0.3 percent the previous month. The January drop was driven by a 5.8-percent decline in soybean and other oilseeds prices. Despite the recent decreases, prices for agricultural exports rose 1.4 percent over the past year. Rising meat prices were the primary contributor to the advance in agricultural prices for the year ended in January.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture: Nonagricultural export prices advanced 0.9 percent in January following a 0.1-percent rise in December. The price indexes for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials; capital goods; automotive vehicles; and consumer goods all rose in January. Prices for nonagricultural export indexes advanced 3.7 percent from January 2017 to January 2018, the largest 12- month increase since a 4.0-percent rise for the year ended December 2011.

Month-Over-Month Price Comparison

  • Oct: Imports +0.2%, Exports +0.1%
  • Nov: Imports +1.0%, Export +0.5%
  • Dec: Imports +0.2%, Exports +0.1%
  • Jan: Imports +1.0%, Exports +0.8%

Starting August of 2017 and every month since, import prices have risen as fast or faster than import prices.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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