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U.S. Import Price Index fell 2.3% in March


Prices for U.S. imports fell 2.3 percent in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, following a 0.7-percent decline the previous month. The March drop was driven by lower fuel prices. U.S. export prices decreased 1.6 percent in March, after falling 1.1 percent in February.

Imports
The price index for U.S. imports declined 2.3 percent in March, the largest monthly drop since import prices fell 3.2 percent in January 2015. The March decline followed a 0.7-percent decrease in February and 0.2-percent advances in each of the 3 months prior to that. Import prices also fell on a 12-month basis, declining 4.1 percent from March 2019 to March 2020. The decrease was the largest over-the-year drop since the index fell 4.7 percent for the 12 months ended June 2016.

Fuel Imports: Import fuel prices fell 26.8 percent in March, after decreasing 9.0 percent in February. The March decline, led by a 27.4-percent drop in petroleum prices, was the largest decrease in import fuel prices since the index fell 27.8 percent in November 2008. The decline in petroleum prices followed an 8.8-percent drop the previous month. Natural gas prices also fell in March, decreasing 16.5 percent, after declining 14.0 percent in February and 12.2 percent in January. Import fuel prices fell 36.2 percent over the past year; lower petroleum prices and natural gas prices both contributed to the decline.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Import prices excluding fuel were unchanged in March following 0.3-percent increases in February and January. In March, lower prices for consumer goods and foods, feeds, and beverages offset advancing prices for automotive vehicles, nonfuel industrial supplies and materials, and capital goods. Prices for nonfuel imports decreased 0.5 percent for the year ended in March.

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: The price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials rose 0.4 percent in March, after increasing 1.0 percent in February. The March advance was led by a 1.2-percent rise in unfinished metals prices and a 2.3-percent increase in prices for building materials.

Finished Goods: Finished goods prices were mixed in March. Higher prices for automotive vehicles and capital goods were largely offset by lower consumer goods prices. The price index for automotive vehicles rose 0.4 percent, driven by a 1.3-percent advance in non-engine auto parts. A 1.1-percent rise in computer prices led capital goods prices up 0.1 percent. In contrast, consumer goods prices fell 0.3 percent, driven by a 6.6-percent drop in diamond prices.

Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: Prices for foods, feeds, and beverages decreased 1.0 percent in March following a 1.3-percent increase in February. In March, a 12.9-percent decline in vegetable prices more than offset a 7.0-percent advance in fruit prices.

Exports
Prices for U.S. exports declined 1.6 percent in March, after falling 1.1 percent in February and rising 0.6 percent in January. The March decrease was the largest monthly drop in export prices since the index declined 1.7 percent in January 2015. Decreasing prices for both nonagricultural exports and agricultural exports contributed to the March drop. U.S. export prices fell 3.6 percent for the year ended in March, the largest 12-month decrease since a 4.5-percent decline from May 2015 to May 2016.

Agricultural Exports: Export agricultural prices declined 1.4 percent in March following a 2.7-percent decrease the previous month. In March, lower prices for other animal feeds, vegetables, nuts, cotton, and wheat more than offset higher prices for fruit, soybeans, and meat. Prices for agricultural exports fell 2.2 percent over the past year, the largest 12-month drop since the index decreased 5.3 percent for the year ended May 2019.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture: The price index for nonagricultural exports declined 1.5 percent in March, after falling 1.1 percent in February. In March, falling prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials; consumer goods; and nonagricultural foods more than offset rising prices for capital goods and automotive vehicles. Prices for nonagricultural exports fell 3.7 percent over the past 12 months, the largest over-the-year decrease since a 3.8-percent decline for the year ended June 2016.

Nonagricultural Industrial Supplies and Materials: Nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials prices fell 4.6 percent in March following a 3.4-percent drop the previous month. Both decreases were driven by falling fuel prices which declined 13.2 percent in March and 10.6 percent in February. The March drop was the largest 1-month decline in export fuel prices since a 16.5-percent decrease in January 2015.

Finished Goods: Prices for finished goods were mixed in March. Similar to imports, capital goods prices and automotive vehicles prices rose and consumer goods prices declined. The price index for capital goods increased 0.2 percent in March following a 0.4-percent advance the previous month. The March rise was led by a 3.4-percent increase in computer prices. Prices for automotive vehicles ticked up 0.1 percent for the second consecutive month in March. In contrast, the price index for consumer goods decreased 0.6 percent, the largest monthly drop since the index fell 1.0 percent in January 2017.

Measures of Import and Export Prices by Locality
Imports by Locality of Origin: Import prices from China rose for the third time in the past 4 months, after not increasing on a monthly basis since May 2018. Prices for imports from China ticked up 0.1 percent in March following a 0.3-percent decline in February and 0.2-percent advances in January and December. Despite the recent rises, the price index for imports from China decreased 1.2 percent over the past 12 months. Import prices from Japan were unchanged for the second consecutive month in March. Prices for imports from Japan rose 0.2 percent from March 2019 to March 2020. Driven by lower fuel prices, the price index for imports from Canada fell 8.3 percent in March, the largest monthly decline since the index decreased 9.0 percent in November 2008. Import prices from the European Union and Mexico also decreased in March. Prices for imports from the European Union fell 0.3 percent, after edging down 0.1 percent in February, and the price index for imports from Mexico declined 0.2 percent following a 0.1-percent drop the previous month.

Exports by Locality of Destination: Prices for exports to China declined 2.3 percent in March following a 0.7-percent drop in February. The March decrease was the largest 1-month drop since the index was first published in December 2017. Export prices to China fell 4.7 percent over the past 12 months. The price index for exports to Japan declined 3.4 percent in March, after decreasing 1.2 percent the previous month. Similar to export prices to China, the March decline in export prices to Japan was the largest monthly drop since the index was first published in December 2017. Prices for exports to Canada and the European Union each fell 1.9 percent in March. The declines came after prices for exports to Canada decreased 1.4 percent in February and export prices to the European Union fell 0.9 percent. The price index for export prices to Mexico decreased 0.4 percent in March, after falling 2.5 percent in February.

Terms of Trade Indexes: Terms of Trade indexes are based on country, region, or grouping and measure the change in the purchasing power of exports relative to imports. The U.S. terms of trade with China fell 2.4 percent in March, the largest decline in the index since publication began in December 2017. The drop in the index resulted from both a decrease in export prices to China and an increase in import prices from China. The index for U.S. terms of trade with Japan decreased 3.5 percent in March, after a 1.1-percent drop the previous month. The U.S. terms of trade with the European Union and Mexico also fell in March, declining 1.7 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. In contrast, the index for U.S. terms of trade with Canada rose 6.9 percent in March following a 3.2-percent advance in February.

Import and Export Services
Imports: Import air passenger fares declined 9.8 percent in March, the largest monthly decrease since the index fell 9.9 percent in July. The March drop was driven by a 12.9-percent decline in European fares. Overall import air passenger fares decreased 11.3 percent for the year ended in March, the largest 12-month drop since the index fell 11.6 percent from October 2008 to October 2009. Import air freight prices advanced 2.6 percent in March, the largest 1-month increase since the index rose 6.9 percent in April 2018. The price index for import air freight increased 3.3 percent over the past year.

Exports: Export air passenger fares declined 4.2 percent in March, after decreasing 9.3 percent the previous month. In March, lower Asian and European fares contributed to the overall decrease. The index for export air passenger fares declined 8.1 percent over the past 12 months, the largest over-the-year drop since the index fell 9.9 percent in July 2016. Prices for export air freight fell 1.0 percent in March and 0.8 percent from March 2019 to March 2020.





Posted: April 14, 2020 Tuesday 08:30 AM




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