U.S. import prices declined 0.3% in August following increases of 0.4% in July and 1.1% in June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The August downturn was led by lower fuel and nonfuel prices. In contrast, prices for U.S. exports advanced 0.4% in August, after increasing 1.1% in July.
The price index for U.S. imports decreased 0.3% in August, the first monthly decline for the index since a 0.1% drop in October 2020. Import prices advanced 9.0% over the past year, the smallest 12-month increase since March 2021. Higher fuel and nonfuel prices contributed to the overall advance in import prices from August 2020 to August 2021.
Import fuel prices declined 2.3% in August following a 3.0% increase in July. The August drop was the first monthly decrease since the index fell 1.0% in October 2020. The August downturn was mostly driven by lower petroleum prices. Prices for import petroleum declined 2.4% in August, after advancing 2.3% the previous month. The price index for natural gas also fell in August, decreasing 0.8% following a 16.6% increase in July. Despite the declines in August, prices for import fuel rose 56.5% over the past year. Petroleum prices increased 55.9% and prices for natural gas advanced 93.2% from August 2020 to August 2021.
All Imports Excluding Fuel:
Prices for nonfuel imports fell 0.1% in August, after ticking up 0.1% the previous month. The August drop was the first monthly decline since the index fell 0.2% in November 2020. In August, a drop in the price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials more than offset higher prices for automotive vehicles; foods, feeds, and beverages; capital goods; and consumer goods. Nonfuel import prices increased 5.6% for the year ended in August.
Foods, Feeds, and Beverages:
Prices for foods, feeds, and beverages advanced 0.6% for the second consecutive month. In August, the rise was led by higher prices for fruit and coffee.
Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials:
Nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices decreased 1.3% in August, after declining 1.2% in July. The August drop was primarily driven by lower selected building materials prices which more than offset higher chemicals prices.
Prices for each of the major finished goods categories advanced in August. Capital goods prices ticked up 0.1%, led by higher prices for computers, peripherals, and semiconductors, and oil drilling, mining, and construction machinery. Prices for automotive vehicles rose 0.3% in August and consumer goods prices advanced 0.1%.