Home » Fuel leads import prices down 0.6% in July

Fuel leads import prices down 0.6% in July

By Mark Green

U.S. import prices declined 0.6 percent in July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, after decreasing 2.4 percent in June and 1.5 percent in May. In each of the past three months, falling prices for both fuel and nonfuel imports contributed to the overall drop. In contrast, U.S. export prices rose 0.5 percent in July following a 1.7 percent decline the previous month.

 

Imports

All Imports: Prices of U.S. imports fell 0.6 percent in July, the fourth consecutive monthly decline for the index following a 1.4 percent increase in March. Import prices also fell over the past 12 months, declining 3.2 percent after increasing 13.7 percent between July 2010 and July 2011. The July 2011-12 drop was the largest year-over-year decline in import prices since the index fell 5.6 percent for the year ended October 2009.

Fuel Imports: The price index for import fuel decreased 1.2 percent in July following declines of 8.8 percent, 5.6 percent, and 0.9 percent, respectively, in the previous three months. The July drop was led by a 1.6 percent decrease in petroleum prices. Fuel prices declined 13.0 percent over the past year after advancing 44.8 percent over the previous 12 months. A 12.3 percent drop in petroleum prices and a 34.5 percent decrease in natural gas prices each contributed to the decline in fuel prices for the July 2011-12 period.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel prices also fell in July, declining 0.4 percent following a 0.3 percent decrease in June and a 0.1 percent drop in May. The July decline was the largest monthly drop since a 0.4 percent decrease in June 2010, and was driven by lower prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials and foods, feeds, and beverages. Despite the decline over the past three months, nonfuel import prices were unchanged for the year ended in July as higher finished goods prices offset falling prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials and foods, feeds, and beverages.

Exports

All Exports: Export prices rose 0.5 percent in July after declining 1.7 percent in June and 0.5 percent in May. For July, higher agricultural prices more than offset declining nonagricultural prices. Despite the July upturn, the price index for U.S. exports fell 1.2 percent between July 2011 and July 2012, following a 9.8 percent increase for the July 2010-11 period. The decline for the year ended in July was led by a 1.9 percent drop in nonagricultural prices.

Agricultural Exports: Prices for agricultural exports increased 6.4 percent in July following a 3.6 percent decline the previous month. The advance was driven by rising prices for soybeans, corn, and wheat: up 16.2 percent, 19.2 percent, and 18.0 percent, respectively. Led by the July increase, agricultural prices also increased over the past year, rising 4.3 percent.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture: The price index for nonagricultural exports decreased 0.3 percent in July after falling 1.5 percent in June and 0.5 percent in May. The July decline was led by lower prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials, consumer goods, and capital goods. The 1.9 percent decline in nonagricultural prices over the past year was the largest 12-month drop for the index since a 2.9 percent decrease between October 2008 and October 2009.

Selected July highlights

Import Prices

Nonfuel Import Highlights: The 0.4 percent drop in nonfuel prices in July was led by a 1.8 percent decrease in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials. A 2.4 percent decline in chemicals prices and a 2.0 percent decrease in unfinished metals prices each contributed to the drop in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices. Foods, feeds, and beverages prices fell 1.2 percent in July; the primary factor for the decline was a 9.5 percent drop in vegetable prices. The price indexes for capital goods and consumer goods also fell in July, each edging down 0.1 percent. In contrast, automotive vehicles prices rose 0.4 percent in July.

Imports by Locality of Origin: Import prices from China fell 0.2 percent in July, resuming a recent downward trend after ticking up 0.1 percent in June. The decrease was led by a 0.7 percent drop in import apparel prices from China. Despite declining in four of the past five months, prices for imports from China advanced 0.8 percent over the past 12 months. The price indexes for imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union also fell in July, decreasing 0.7 percent, 0.4 percent, and 0.1 percent, respectively. Prices for imports from Japan were unchanged in July after ticking up 0.1 percent in each of the previous two months.

Transportation Services: Import air passenger fares decreased 3.2 percent in July, led by a 7.1 percent drop in European fares. The July decrease for import air passenger fares followed a 10.3 percent increase the previous month. The index for import air passenger fares advanced 5.2 percent over the past year. Import air freight prices fell 1.4 percent in July, the first monthly decline for the index since a 1.1 percent decrease in February. Prices for import air freight declined 4.2 percent for the July 2011-12 period.

Export Prices

Nonagricultural Export Highlights: The price index for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials fell 0.4 percent in July, while prices for each of the major finished goods areas were mixed. The July drop in nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials was driven by a 1.0 percent decline in chemicals prices. Prices for consumer goods and capital goods fell in July, decreasing 0.6 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. In contrast, automotive vehicles prices increased 0.2 percent in July.

Transportation Services: Export air passenger fares increased 3.5 percent in July after rising 2.1 percent in June and 6.6 percent in May. The July advance was driven by a 4.8 percent increase in Asian fares. The index for export air passenger fares also rose over the past 12 months, advancing 2.4 percent as higher Latin American/Caribbean and Asian fares more than offset lower European fares. Export air freight prices fell 2.1 percent in July, the largest decline since a 3.0 percent decrease in May 2009. The price index for export freight decreased 1.0 percent for the year ended in July.

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