U.S. import prices drop for first time in six months in August
The report said import prices dipped by 0.2 percent in August after inching up by 0.1 percent in July. Economists had expected import prices to edge down by 0.1 percent.
With the decrease in August, import prices moved lower for the first time since a 0.5 percent decline in February.
The modest drop in imports prices was primarily due to a continued decline in prices for fuel imports, which slumped by 2.1 percent in August after tumbling by 2.5 percent in July.
The Labor Department said a notable decrease in petroleum prices more than offset a jump in prices for natural gas.
Meanwhile, the report said prices for non-fuel prices were unchanged in August after rising by 0.3 percent in the previous month.
Higher prices for non-fuel industrial supplies and materials offset lower prices for automotive vehicles, foods, feeds, and beverages, and consumer goods.
The Labor Department also said export prices slid by 0.8 percent in August following a 0.2 percent increase in July. Export prices had been expected to tick up by 0.1 percent.
The unexpected drop in export prices came as prices for agricultural exports plunged by 3.4 percent in August after falling by 0.3 percent in July.
The decline was led by a 9.5 percent decrease in soybean prices, although falling prices for fruit, vegetables, corn, and meat also contributed to the drop.
Prices for non-agricultural exports also fell by 0.4 percent in August after rising by 0.2 percent in the previous month, reflecting the first monthly drop since February.
The decrease reflected lower prices for industrial supplies and materials, automotive vehicles, capital goods, and consumer goods.
Compared to the same month a year ago, import prices were down by 2.2 percent in August, while export prices were down by 2.4 percent. ■