Import and Export Price Weakness Continues in July
The BLS report on Import and Export Prices shows more weakness in July.
- Index: Prices for U.S. imports declined 0.9 percent in June, the first monthly decrease since the index fell 1.4 percent in December 2018. Import prices decreased 2.0 percent over the past 12 months, the largest over the-year drop since the index fell 2.2 percent from August 2015 to August 2016.
- Fuel Imports: Import fuel prices fell 6.5 percent in June following a 2.3-percent advance the previous month. The June downturn was the first monthly decline since the index decreased 13.3 percent in December 2018. Lower petroleum and natural gas prices in June both contributed to the overall fall in fuel prices. The price index for import petroleum declined 6.2 percent in June, after rising 2.4 percent in May. Natural gas prices fell 21.0 percent in June and 58.4 percent in the second quarter of 2019. Import fuel prices declined 6.6 percent over the past 12 months, driven by a 7.4-percent drop in petroleum prices. Natural gas prices declined 1.2 percent over the past year as the drop in the second quarter largely offset a 126.6-percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2018.
- All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel import prices fell 0.3 percent for the second consecutive month in June. Lower prices for foods, feeds, and beverages; nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; capital goods; and consumer goods more than offset rising prices for automotive vehicles. Prices for nonfuel imports declined 1.4 percent over the past 12 months, the same over-the-year decline recorded in May. The decline from June 2018 to June 2019 was primarily driven by decreasing prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials.
- Index: U.S. export prices fell 0.7 percent in June, after decreasing 0.2 percent in May. The June decline was the largest monthly drop for the index since a 0.8-percent decrease in November 2018. The price index for overall exports fell 1.6 percent for the year ended in June, the largest 12-month decline since the index decreased 2.4 percent from August 2015 to August 2016.
- Agricultural Exports: Prices for agricultural exports increased 2.7 percent in June following a 1.1-percent decline the previous month. The advance was the largest monthly rise since the index increased 3.8 percent in December 2018. In June, the advance was led by a 13.5-percent rise in corn prices and a 5.0-percent increase in soybean prices; higher fruit, wheat, and nut prices also contributed to the overall rise in agricultural prices. Despite the June advance, agricultural export prices fell 1.9 percent from June 2018 to June 2019. The drop over the past year was led by a 14.4-percent decrease in soybean prices.
- All Exports Excluding Agriculture: Prices for nonagricultural exports decreased 1.1 percent in June, after declining 0.2 percent in May. The June drop was the largest monthly decrease since the index fell 1.1 percent in December 2018. In June, lower prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials more than offset higher prices for capital goods and consumer goods. Nonagricultural prices declined 1.6 percent over the past year, the largest 12-month drop since the index fell 2.3 percent for the year ended in August 2016. The decrease over the past 12 months was led by lower prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials.
For a Fed determined to produce inflation but clueless in how to measure it, this report isn't welcome.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock