Import, Export Prices Advance in December

Import prices continued an upward trend in December, rising .4% after a .2% decline in November, according to indices from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Export prices rose .3% in December, matching a rise in September; these were the largest increases for the export index since a .8% rise in June.

Prices for overall imports advanced 1.8% between December 2015 and December 2016, representing the largest year-long increase since the index rose 3.5% in March 2012. The 2016 increase was the first calendar-year advance since import prices rose 8.5% in 2011.

Prices for import fuel rose 7.3% in December, which was the largest monthly increase since the 10.5% advance in June. Natural gas prices also rose, showing an increase of 2.2%. The price index for import fuel advanced 25% in 2016, following a 41% drop in 2015. The 2016 increase was the largest calendar-year advance since a 62% jump in 2009.

Lower prices for foods, feeds and beverages, as well as each of the finished goods areas, led a decline in the price index for nonfuel imports in December, the third consecutive month for decreases, falling .2%. Prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials rose, however. Nonfuel import prices were down .1% in 2016 after a 3.4% drop the previous year.

For all exports, higher nonagricultural prices offset declining agricultural prices. Prices for overall exports rose 1.1% for the year ended in December, marking the first 12-month increase since the index advanced .4% in August 2014.

Higher prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials offset lower finished goods prices, driving the nonagricultural export price increase of .4% in December, after edging down .1% in November. Declines in vegetable and fruit prices led a decrease in agricultural export prices of .3% in December, the bureau said.

– Adam Fusco, editorial associate

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