U.S. import prices increased 0.6 percent in August, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on September 15, after rising 0.1 percent the previous month. Higher fuel and non-fuel prices contributed to the overall advance. Export prices rose 0.8 percent in August after declining 0.2 percent in July and 0.7 percent in June.
All Imports: Import prices increased for the second consecutive month in August, rising 0.6 percent following a comparatively modest 0.1 percent advance in July. The price index for overall imports rose 4.1 percent for the year ended in August, the smallest 12-month advance since a 3.4 percent rise for the November 2008-2009 period.
Fuel Imports: Approximately 58 percent of the overall increase in import prices in August was attributable to a 1.7 percent advance in fuel prices. The August increase in fuel prices followed a 1.0 percent rise the previous month and was led by a 2.1 percent increase in petroleum prices which more than offset a 3.5 percent decline in natural gas prices. Prices for fuel rose 9.1 percent over the past 12 months; an 8.5 percent increase in petroleum prices and a 25.0 percent jump in natural gas prices each contributed to the overall advance.
All Imports Excluding Fuel: The price index for non-fuel prices also rose in August, increasing 0.3 percent following decreases of 0.2 percent in July and 0.5 percent in June. The August increase was primarily driven by higher prices for finished goods and food, feeds, and beverages. Non-fuel prices advanced 2.9 percent over the past year. In contrast to the August increase, the annual advance was led by rising non-fuel industrial supplies and materials prices, up 13.0 percent for the August 2009-2010 period.
All Exports: Export prices resumed an upward trend in August, increasing 0.8 percent after declining the two previous months. The August increase was the largest monthly advance since a 1.1 percent rise in April and higher prices for both non-agricultural exports and agricultural exports each contributed to the rise in overall export prices. The price index for overall exports increased 4.1 percent over the past 12 months.
Agricultural Exports: Agricultural prices rose 4.2 percent in August, the largest monthly increase since a similar 4.2 percent advance in June 2009. The August increase was driven by a 31.1 percent surge in wheat prices and a 9.8 percent advance in the price index for soybeans and soybean by-products. The increase in agricultural prices in August led the 6.4 percent advance for the index over the past year.
All Exports Excluding Agriculture: The price index for non-agricultural exports rose 0.5 percent in August following declines of 0.2 percent in July and 0.8 percent in June. The increase was led by a 1.6 percent advance in the price index for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials. Non-agricultural prices increased 3.9 percent for the year ended in August.
SELECTED AUGUST HIGHLIGHTS
Non-fuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: Non-fuel industrial supplies and materials prices ticked up 0.1 percent in August after falling 1.1 percent in July. An increase in chemicals prices more than offset a decline in building materials prices. The price index for unfinished metals, which rose 25.2 percent over the past year, was unchanged in August.
Finished Goods: Prices for each of the major finished goods categories rose in August. The price indexes for consumer goods and capital goods rose 0.2 percent while automotive vehicle prices increased 0.3 percent. The increase in capital goods prices was led by a 0.4 percent rise in prices for capital goods excluding computers which more than offset a 0.2 percent drop in computer prices.
Foods, Feeds and Beverages: Foods, feeds and beverages prices rose 2.2 percent in August, the largest one-month advance for the index since a 2.9 percent increase in March 2008. Increasing prices for vegetables, meat and food oils, up 5.2 percent, 4.5 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively, all contributed to the overall August advance.
Imports by Locality of Origin: The price indexes for import prices from Canada and from Mexico each advanced 0.7 percent in August while prices for imports from the European Union rose 0.3 percent. Higher petroleum prices contributed to the increases. Import prices from Japan rose 0.2 percent in August after recording no change in July. The price index for imports from China remained unchanged in August following a 0.1 percent uptick the previous month.
Transportation Services: Import air passenger fares fell for the second consecutive month in August, falling 4.1 percent after a 1.3 percent decline in July. A 5.9 percent decrease in European fares and a 4.5 percent drop in Asian fares each contributed to the overall decline. In contrast, import air freight prices rose 1.3 percent following decreases of 1.1 percent in July and 0.9 percent in June.
Non-agricultural Industrial Supplies and Materials: Prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials rose 1.6 percent in August after falling 0.6 percent the previous month. The increase was led by a 5.6 percent advance in fuel prices, while higher prices for metals and chemicals also contributed to the increase. The price index for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials increased 12.1 percent over the past year.
Finished Goods: Finished goods prices were mixed overall in August. Consumer goods prices fell 0.3 percent following a 0.3 percent increase in July. Automotive vehicles prices edged up 0.1 percent in August while the price index for capital goods was unchanged in August.
Transportation Services: Export air passenger fares increased 0.6 percent in August, driven by a 20.3 percent jump in Asian fares which more than offset a 6.8 percent drop in European fares and a 3.9 percent decline in Latin American/Caribbean fares. The price index for export air freight prices also rose 0.6 percent in August after declining 1.3 percent in July.