Import Prices Down 0.1% in October on Lower Fuel Prices; Export Prices Increase 0.2%

U.S. import prices edged down 0.1% in October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, after rising 0.2% the previous month. The October decline was driven by lower fuel prices which more than offset higher nonfuel prices. In contrast, prices for U.S. exports increased 0.2% in October following a 0.6% advance in September.

Imports

Prices for U.S. imports fell 0.1% in October, the first one-month decline for the index since a 2.6% drop in April. From April to September, import prices increased 4.3%. Despite the recent increases, prices for U.S. imports decreased 1.0% for the year ended in October. (See table 1.)

Fuel Imports: Import fuel prices decreased 1.9% in October, after a 5.2% drop the previous month. Lower prices for both natural gas and petroleum contributed to the October decline. Natural gas prices fell 18.1% in October following increases of 26.3% in September and 12.9% in August. The October decrease was the largest drop since the index fell 22.1% in June 2019. The price index for import petroleum declined 1.0% in October, after decreasing 6.8% the previous month. Prices for import fuel fell 27.4% for the year ended in October. A 29.1% decline in petroleum prices over the past 12 months more than offset a 20.9% advance in natural gas prices.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Prices for nonfuel imports rose 0.1% in October, after a 0.5% increase in September and a 0.7% advance in August. Nonfuel import prices have not recorded a one-month decline since April. The October rise was led by higher prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials and foods, feeds, and beverages which more than offset falling prices for consumer goods and automotive vehicles. The price index for nonfuel imports advanced 1.7% over the past 12 months, the largest over-the-year increase since the index rose 1.8% in May 2018.

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: Nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices advanced 0.3% in October following a 2.7% rise the previous month. In October, the increase was driven by higher prices for chemicals and selected building materials.

Finished Goods: Finished goods prices were mostly down in October. Prices for consumer goods decreased 0.2%, the first decline since April. The October decline was led by lower prices for coins, gems, jewelry, and collectibles. Automotive vehicles prices also fell in October, edging down 0.1%. Prices for capital goods were unchanged.

Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: The price index for foods, feeds, and beverages ticked up 0.1% in October, after rising 1.1% in September. The October increase was led by a 1.9% advance in fish and shellfish prices which more than offset lower prices for fruit, meat, and coffee.

Exports

U.S. export prices increased 0.2% in October, continuing the upward trend of the four previous months. In October, the advance was driven by higher agricultural export prices; prices for nonagricultural exports were unchanged. Even with the recent increases, export prices declined 1.6% for the year ended in October. (See table 2.)

Agricultural Exports: The price index for agricultural exports rose 3.4% in October, after increasing 2.8% in September. The October advance was the largest rise since the index increased 3.8% in December 2018. Higher prices for vegetables, corn, soybeans, and dairy products were the largest contributors to the October increase in agricultural prices. Agricultural export prices advanced 3.1% over the past year, the largest 12-month increase since January.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture: Prices for nonagricultural exports were unchanged in October, after rising in each of the four previous months. In October, lower prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials and capital goods offset an increase in automotive vehicles prices. Despite not recording a monthly decline since April, nonagricultural export prices decreased 2.0% over the past year. A 6.9% decline in nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials from October 2019 to October 2020 more than offset higher finished goods prices.

Nonagricultural Industrial Supplies and Materials: The price index for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials exports fell 0.3%, the first decline since the index decreased 10.4% in April. The October drop was led by a 1.2% decrease in fuel prices.

Finished Goods: Finished goods prices were mixed in October. Automotive vehicles prices rose 0.3%, after not changing the two previous months. The October rise was the largest monthly advance since January and was driven by higher prices for engines and engine parts. In contrast, prices for capital goods edged down 0.1% in October, the first monthly drop since May. The price index for consumer goods was unchanged in October.