Import prices are down 0.3% for the month, 6.1% in the last 12 months. This is the 8th consecutive month of declines. Non-fuel import prices have not risen since July of 2014. That’s 20 consecutive months.

Export prices are down 0.4% in February, 6.0% in the past 12 months. This is the 9th consecutive month of declines.

With rising oil prices, perhaps we will see a break in these trends next month.

Selected Highlights

Let’s dive into the BLS report on Import and Export Prices, for further details.

Imports by Locality of Origin

In February, prices for imports from China edged down 0.1 percent for the third consecutive month and have not recorded a monthly advance since the index increased 0.1 percent in December 2014. Import prices from China declined 1.6 percent over the past year. Led by lower fuel prices, prices for imports from Canada, the European Union, and Mexico also fell in February, declining 0.8 percent, 0.5 percent, and 0.9 percent, respectively. The 0.5-percent decrease for import prices from the European Union was the largest monthly drop since the index fell 1.1 percent in September 2015, and the 0.9-percent decline for import prices from Mexico was the largest 1-month decrease since the index dropped 1.3 percent in August 2015. In contrast, the price index for imports from Japan rose 0.1 percent in February.

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials Imports

Nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices edged down 0.1 percent, led by lower prices for chemicals and building materials. The price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials has not recorded a 1-month increase since the index rose 0.5 percent in July 2014.

Finished Goods Imports

Consumer goods prices rose 0.3 percent in February, after advancing 0.4 percent in January. Both monthly increases were driven by higher prices for medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical prices which rose 2.0 percent in February and 2.2 percent in January. In contrast, automotive vehicle prices fell 0.1 percent. In February, the price index for capital goods was unchanged from the previous month. Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: Foods, feeds, and beverages prices decreased 2.0 percent in February as a 20.0-percent drop in vegetable prices more than offset an 8.3-percent rise in meat prices.

Export Prices – Nonagricultural Industrial Supplies and Materials

The price index for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials decreased 2.1 percent in February and 15.2 percent over the past 12 months. Both declines were driven by lower fuel prices which declined 6.1 percent in February and 33.0 percent between February 2015 and February 2016.

Finished Goods Export Prices

The major export finished goods categories were mixed in February. Capital goods prices rose 0.3 percent, led by a 4.2-percent increase in prices for civilian aircraft engines. The last monthly increase for capital goods prices larger than 0.3 percent was a 0.7-percent advance in January 2013. In contrast, prices for automotive vehicles fell 0.2 percent, and consumer goods prices edged down 0.1 percent.

Export Rounding Errors?

  • All Exports: -0.4%
  • All Exports Excluding Agriculture: -0.4%
  • Agricultural Exports: +0.6%

Mathematically those posted results are impossible unless there are some undetected rounding errors.

Something like all exports -3.6%, all exports excluding agricultural -4.4%, and agricultural exports +5.6% might work.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock