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April 12, 2019 | Import and Export Prices Surge on Rising Energy Prices

Mike 'Mish' Shedlock

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.
As with yesterday’s Producer Price Report, a surge in import and export prices is energy related.

The BLS Import and Export Price monitor shows a month-over-month surge in import prices of 0.6% and export prices of 0.7%. Year-over-year prices remain subdued.

Import Prices Month-Over-Month and Year-Over-Year


Prices for U.S. imports advanced 0.6 percent in March and 1.7 percent in the first 3 months of 2019. The increase for the 3 months ended in March was the largest 3-month rise since the index advanced 1.9 percent between October 2017 and January 2018. The import price index recorded no change over the past 12 months.

Fuel Imports

Import fuel prices rose 6.4 percent in March after increasing 9.7 percent in February and 4.4 percent in January. Petroleum prices rose 4.7 percent in March, continuing the trend of the previous 2 months, and natural gas prices rose 42.3 percent following a 12.9-percent increase in February. Fuel prices rose 7.3 percent over the past 12 months. The price index for petroleum increased 3.9 percent for the year ended in March, and prices for natural gas rose 91.3 percent over the same period. The 12-month increase in natural gas prices was the largest advance since the index rose 99.9 percent in March 2014.

All Imports Excluding Fuel

The price index for nonfuel imports decreased 0.2 percent in March, after rising 0.2 percent in February. In March, falling prices for capital goods, consumer goods, and nonfuel industrial supplies and materials more than offset an increase in the prices for foods, feeds, and beverages. Nonfuel import prices declined 0.8 percent from March 2018 to March 2019, the largest 12-month drop since the index fell 0.9 percent for the year ended in August 2016. Each of the major import categories contributed to the decrease in nonfuel prices over the past year.

Export Prices Month-Over-Month and Year-Over-Year


The price index for U.S. exports advanced 0.7 percent in March, after increasing 0.7 percent the previous month. Those increases followed 0.6-percent declines in January and December. Prices for nonagricultural and agricultural exports each contributed to the overall advance in March. U.S. export prices rose 0.6 percent over the past 12 months.

Agricultural Exports

The price index for agricultural exports increased 0.9 percent in March following a 0.2-percent advance in February. The rise in March was led by a 34.9-percent increase in vegetable prices.Rising prices for dairy products and eggs also contributed to the March advance. In contrast, wheat,soybean, and corn prices declined in March. Despite the recent increases, agricultural export prices fell 2.3 percent over the past year. The decrease was driven by a 15.5-percent drop in soybean prices from March 2018 to March 2019.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture

Prices for nonagricultural exports rose 0.7 percent in March, after increasing 0.8 percent in February. In March, higher prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials more than offset lower prices for capital goods and automotive vehicles. The price index for nonagricultural exports increased 1.0 percent for the year ended in March.


I believe these prices moves are transitory. That’s a word the Fed likes to use, but typically in the opposite sense (e.g. the downturn in inflation is transitory).

With a global recession on deck price pressures will remain subdued.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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April 12th, 2019

Posted In: Mish Talk

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