U.S. import prices declining
The October decrease in overall import prices followed comparatively modest advances in each of the previous 3 months. Prices for U.S. exports fell 0.5 percent in October, after a 0.4 percent increase the previous month.
Prices for overall imports declined 0.7 percent in October, after ticking up between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent in each of the previous 3 months. The October drop was driven by lower fuel prices as nonfuel import prices were unchanged. Import prices decreased 2.0 percent for the year ended in October, the largest 12-month drop since a 2.7 percent decline between April 2012 and April 2013.
Import fuel prices fell 3.4 percent in October, the largest monthly decline since an 8.5 percent decrease in June 2012. The October drop followed increases of 0.4 percent in September, 1.6 percent in August, and 1.7 percent in July. The price index for import fuel decreased 3.8 percent over the past year.
Both the October decline and the drop over the past 12 months were driven by lower petroleum prices, which fell 3.6 percent for the month and 4.1 percent for the year ended in October. Higher natural gas prices, up 5.8 percent in October and 8.1 percent over the past 12 months, partially offset declining petroleum prices.
Nonfuel prices recorded no change in October and declined 1.3 percent over the past 12 months. The drop over the past year was led by a 5.1 percent decrease in the price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials. Lower prices for each of the major finished goods categories between October 2012 and October 2013 also contributed to the overall decline in nonfuel import prices.
The price index for overall exports decreased 0.5 percent in October, resuming a downward trend following a 0.4 percent increase the previous month. Prior to September, export prices last advanced in February when the index rose 0.7 percent. Export prices also fell over the past 12 months, declining 2.1 percent, the largest year-over-year decrease since a 2.1 percent drop for the year ended in June 2012. The last time the index fell more than 2.1 percent was a 3.6 percent decline between October 2008 and October 2009.
Agricultural export prices decreased 1.5 percent in October following a 0.6 percent increase the previous month. The October drop was driven by lower prices for corn and soybeans, down 12.5 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The price index for agricultural exports fell 6.1 percent over the past year led by a 35.7 percent decline in corn prices, a 13.3 percent drop in soybean prices, and a 13.6 percent decrease in wheat prices.
Prices for nonagricultural exports fell 0.4 percent in October, after increasing 0.3 percent in September. Lower prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials and capital goods more than offset rising prices for automotive vehicles. Overall nonagricultural prices declined 1.6 percent from October 2012 to October 2013, driven by lower prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials and consumer goods. ■