U.S. Import Prices Show First Annual Decrease Since December 2020
A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed import prices edged slightly lower in the month of February.
The Labor Department said import prices dipped by 0.1 percent in February after falling by a revised 0.4 percent in January.
Economists had expected import prices to slip by 0.2 percent, matching the decrease originally reported for the previous month.
The modest decrease in import prices came amid a continued slump in prices for fuel imports, which plunged by 4.9 percent for the second straight month.
Prices for non-fuel imports rose by 0.4 percent in February after inching up by 0.2 percent in January, reflecting higher prices for consumer goods, foods, feeds, and beverages, capital goods and automotive vehicles.
The report also said import prices in February were down by 1.1 percent compared to the same month a year ago, reflecting the first annual decrease since December 2020.
“Import prices have entered a disinflationary cycle, propelled lower by declining fuel prices which have fallen precipitously since their initial spike at the onset of the war in Ukraine,” said Matthew Martin, U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
He added, “As those base effects intensify, annual import price inflation will fall more deeply into negative territory.”
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said export prices rose by 0.2 percent in February after climbing by a revised 0.5 percent in January.
Export prices were expected to edge down by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.8 percent advance originally reported for the previous month.
The unexpected uptick in export prices largely reflected a rebound in prices for agricultural exports, which jumped by 1.0 percent in February after falling by 0.9 percent in January.
Prices for non-agricultural exports inched up by 0.1 percent in February after climbing by 0.6 percent in the previous month.
The report also said export prices in February were down by 0.8 percent compared to the same month a year ago, reflecting the first annual decrease since November 2020.
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