Import Prices Decline Year-Over-Year, Export Prices Slightly Positive

In the wake of the declining price of oil, import and export prices are on a downward slope.

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.

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