U.S. Import Prices Drop Amid Cheaper Fuel Prices

U.S. import prices—mostly due to lower fuel prices—declined 0.3% in February, following a 1% drop in January and 1.2% drop in December. The dip marks an ongoing monthly decrease in import prices that stretches back to June 2015, when the index increased by 0.1%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The price index for overall imports decreased 6.1% from February 2015 to February 2016.

In February, the cost for imported fuel fell 3.9%, marking an easing up of steep declines in fuel prices that totaled 21.9% over December and January, BLS said. Fuel prices also have not advanced since June 2015, when the index increased 1.5%.

Fuel prices have dropped 37.3% over the past year, while natural gas prices also fell year-over-year in February by 36.4%. BLS also recorded lower prices for foods, feeds and beverages; automobiles; and nonfuel industrial supplies and materials, offsetting higher consumer goods prices.

Export prices decreased in February by 0.4%, led by declining nonagricultural prices that overtook increasing agricultural prices, the department reported. Export prices have also marched steadily downward since May 2015. The price index for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials has decreased 15.2% over the past year.

- Nicholas Stern, NACM editorial associate

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