WASHINGTON (May 10, 2012) — U.S. import prices declined 0.5 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, following a 1.5 percent increase in March. The April decrease was driven by lower fuel prices, which more than offset a small increase in nonfuel prices. The price index for overall exports rose 0.4 percent in April after a 0.8 percent increase the previous month.
Prices for U.S. imports fell 0.5 percent in April, the first monthly decrease since a 0.4 percent decline in October 2011 and the largest one-month drop since the index decreased 0.6 percent in June 2011. Despite the April decline, import prices rose 0.5 percent over the past year, although that was the smallest 12-month advance since the index last recorded a year-over-year decrease in October 2009.
A 2.1 percent drop in fuel prices led the overall decline in import prices in April. The decrease in fuel prices followed a 4.4 percent increase in March and was the largest decline for the index since a similar 2.1 percent decrease in August 2011. A 1.8 percent decline in petroleum prices and a 14.1 percent drop in natural gas prices each contributed to the April decrease in overall fuel prices. Fuel prices also fell over the past 12 months as a 45.3 percent decline in natural gas prices more than offset higher petroleum prices that ticked up 0.1 percent from April 2011 to April 2012. The decrease in overall fuel prices was the first 12-month decline since the index fell 14.2 percent for the year ended in October 2009.
All imports excluding fuel:
The price index for nonfuel prices ticked up 0.1 percent in April after rising 0.5 percent the previous month. Higher prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials, automotive vehicles, consumer goods, and foods, feeds, and beverages all contributed to the increase in overall nonfuel prices. Capital goods prices were unchanged. Nonfuel prices rose 1.3 percent over the past 12 months.
U.S. export prices increased 0.4 percent in April as agricultural and nonagricultural prices each contributed to the advance. The April rise in overall export prices followed a 1.5 percent increase in the first quarter of 2012. Export prices advanced 0.7 percent for the April 2011-12 period, the smallest year-over- year increase since the index rose 0.4 percent between November 2008 and November 2009. The 12-month increase in April was led by higher nonagricultural prices, which more than offset declining agricultural prices over the past year.
Agricultural prices rose 2.0 percent in April after rising 2.5 percent in March. The April advance was led by a 7.4 percent increase in soybean prices. Despite the increases in the past two months, agricultural prices fell 3.1 percent over the past 12 months. That decline was driven by falling cotton, corn, and wheat prices between April 2011 and April 2012.
All exports excluding agriculture:
The price index for nonagricultural prices advanced 0.2 percent in April following a 0.5 percent rise the previous month. Rising prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials, as well as automotive vehicles, more than offset lower consumer goods prices. Overall nonagricultural prices increased 1.2 percent for the year ended in April.