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U.S. Import Price Index rose 0.3% in December
Prices for U.S. imports advanced 0.3 percent in December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, after ticking up 0.1 percent the previous month. The December rise was driven by increasing fuel prices. U.S. export prices declined 0.2 percent in December following a 0.2-percent advance in November.
The price index for U.S. imports rose 0.3 percent in December, the largest monthly advance since the index increased 0.6 percent in March. Prices for imports rose 0.5 percent in 2019, after decreasing 0.9 percent in 2018. The 12-month advance in December was the largest over-the-year increase since the index rose 0.7 percent between November 2017 and November 2018.
Fuel Imports: Prices for import fuel increased 2.8 percent in December following a 1.3-percent advance the previous month. Higher December prices for both petroleum and natural gas contributed to the overall increase in fuel prices. Petroleum prices rose 2.1 percent in December, after not changing in November; prices for natural gas advanced 19.4 percent following a 42.0-percent November jump. The price index for import fuel increased 19.3 percent in 2019 following a 13.1-percent drop the previous year. A 22.3-percent rise in petroleum prices over the past year more than offset lower natural gas prices. Despite advancing 123.7 percent over the past quarter, prices for natural gas fell 13.3 percent in 2019.
All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel import prices were unchanged in December, after edging down 0.1 percent in November. Prices for nonfuel imports have not risen on a monthly basis since the index ticked up 0.1 percent in February. In December, declining nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices offset higher prices for foods, feeds, and beverages and for finished goods. The price index for nonfuel imports decreased 1.4 percent in 2019 following a 0.6-percent advance the previous year. The 2019 decline was the first calendar-year drop since the index fell 3.4 percent in 2015. Prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; finished goods; and foods, feeds, and beverages all decreased in 2019.
Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: The price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials declined 0.1 percent in December, after not changing in November. The December drop was led by a 1.2-percent decrease in unfinished metals prices.
Finished Goods: Finished goods prices were mostly up in December. Capital goods prices rose 0.1 percent, after a 0.3-percent drop in November. Prices for automotive vehicles also ticked up 0.1 percent in December following the same increase the previous month. Consumer goods were unchanged, after edging down 0.1 percent in November.
Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: Prices for foods, feeds, and beverages advanced 1.1 percent following a 0.5-percent decline the previous month. In December, rising prices for vegetables, meat, and fruit drove the overall increase.
U.S. export prices fell 0.2 percent in December following a 0.2-percent increase in November. Lower prices for both nonagricultural exports and agricultural exports contributed to the decrease. Prices for overall exports declined 0.7 percent in 2019 following a 1.1-percent increase in 2018. The 2019 drop was the first calendar-year fall since the index declined 6.6 percent in 2015.
Agricultural Exports: Prices for agricultural exports decreased 0.1 percent in December, after increasing 2.2 percent in November and 1.7 percent in October. In December, decreasing prices for soybeans, fruit, and vegetables more than offset higher meat prices. The price index for agricultural exports fell 1.3 percent over the past year following a 2.3-percent increase in 2018. Prior to 2019, agricultural prices had not declined for a calendar-year since 2016.
All Exports Excluding Agriculture: The price index for nonagricultural export prices edged down 0.1 percent in December following no change the previous month. Lower prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials, automotive vehicles, and consumer goods all contributed to the overall decline. Nonagricultural export prices decreased 0.6 percent in 2019, the first calendar-year decline since 2015. Previously, prices for nonagricultural exports rose 1.0 percent from December 2017 to December 2018.
Nonagricultural Industrial Supplies and Materials: Nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials prices fell 0.3 percent in December, after ticking up 0.1 percent in November. The December decrease was driven by a 0.7-percent drop in chemicals prices and a 0.6-percent decline in nonferrous metals prices.
Finished Goods: Prices for export finished goods were mostly down in December. Automotive vehicle prices fell 0.4 percent, the largest monthly decline since a 0.5-percent drop in August 2016. The decrease was led by a 2.2-percent drop in the price index for engines and engine parts. The price index for consumer goods edged down 0.1 percent in December, after rising 0.1 percent the previous month. Prices for capital goods were unchanged in December.
Measures of Import and Export Prices by Locality
Imports by Locality of Origin: Import prices from China were unchanged in December, after 0.1-percent declines in each of the previous 2 months. Prices for imports from China fell 1.8 percent in 2019, and have not increased on a calendar-year basis since a 3.6-percent advance in 2011. The index for import prices from Japan fell 0.1 percent in December following a 0.1-percent increase in November. Import prices from Japan rose 0.4 percent in 2019, after a 1.0-percent advance the previous year. The price indexes for imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union all increased in December. Prices for imports from Canada rose 0.6 percent and import prices from Mexico advanced 0.3 percent, both led by higher fuel prices. Import prices from the European Union ticked up 0.1 percent.
Exports by Locality of Destination: Export prices to China increased 0.2 percent in December following a 0.7-percent advance in November. Despite the recent increases, prices for exports to China declined 0.4 percent in 2019, after falling 1.5 percent in 2018, the first full year the locality of destination indexes were published. The price index for exports to Japan was unchanged in December following a 0.1-percent advance in November. Export prices to the European Union were unchanged for the second consecutive month in December. In contrast, prices for exports to Mexico and Canada both declined in December. The price index for exports to Mexico fell 0.5 percent, after a 0.6-percent advance the previous month, and export prices to Canada decreased 0.2 percent following a 1.0-percent rise in November.
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 rose 0.2 percent in December, after a 0.8-percent advance in November. The index for U.S. terms of trade with China increased 1.4 percent in 2019 following a 1.3-percent drop the previous year. In 2019, the increase resulted from import prices from China falling at a greater rate than export prices to China. The U.S terms of trade with Japan ticked up 0.1 percent in December following no change the previous month. The index for U.S. terms of trade with Canada decreased 0.8 percent in December, after edging down 0.1 percent in November. Higher import prices from Canada and lower export prices to Canada contributed to the December drop. The U.S. terms of trade with Mexico also fell 0.8 percent in December following a 1.5 percent advance in November. The index for U.S. terms of trade with the European Union declined 0.1 percent for the third consecutive month in December.
Import and Export Services
Imports: Import air passenger fares rose 5.7 percent in December, after increasing 15.9 percent from August to November. The December advance was led by a 19.3-percent rise in Asian fares and a 16.1 percent increase in Latin American/Caribbean fares. Despite the recent increase, import air passenger fares declined 4.7 percent in 2019. The price index for import air freight rose 1.3 percent in December and decreased 3.7 percent over the past year.
Exports: Export air passenger fares fell 0.7 percent in December following a 3.3-percent increase in November. In December, decreasing European and Asian fares more than offset higher Latin American/Caribbean fares. The index for export air passenger fares declined 2.6 percent for the year ended in December. Export air freight advanced 0.8 percent in December and fell 0.6 percent in 2019
Posted: January 16, 2020 Thursday 08:30 AM