U.S. Import Prices Fall 0.1% in February on Lower Fuel Prices; Export Prices Rise 0.2%

Prices for U.S. imports edged down 0.1% in February, after declining 0.4% in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Lower fuel prices in February more than offset higher nonfuel prices. U.S. export prices increased 0.2 percent in February following a 0.5% advance the previous month.

The price index for U.S. imports declined 0.1% in February. Prices for U.S. imports decreased each month since June 2022 with the exception of a 0.1% advance in December 2022. U.S. import prices declined 1.1% from February 2022 to February 2023, the first 12-month decrease since the index fell
0.3% in December 2020 and the largest over-the-year drop since a 1.3% decline in September 2020.

Fuel Imports: Prices for import fuel fell 4.9% for the second consecutive month in February. Those are the largest monthly drops since September 2022 and import fuel prices have not risen on a one-month basis since June 2022. Lower natural gas prices in February more than offset higher petroleum prices. Natural gas prices decreased 55.6% in February following a 10.3% advance in January and a 68.4% increase in December. In contrast, prices for import petroleum rose 1.5% in February. Import fuel prices declined 11.6% over the past year. The price index for import natural gas fell 16.4% for the year ended in February, and petroleum prices decreased 11.8% over the same period.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel import prices rose 0.4% in February following a 0.2% advance in January. Higher prices in February for consumer goods; foods, feeds, and beverages; capital goods; and automotive vehicles more than offset lower nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices.

Prices for nonfuel imports advanced 0.2% from February 2022 to February 2023.

Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: The price index for import foods, feeds, and beverages increased 1.3% in February, after advancing 1.2% the previous month. In February, higher fruit prices more than offset lower vegetable prices.

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: Prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials edged down 0.1% in February following a 0.3% drop in January. The February decline was driven by lower chemical prices.

Finished Goods: Import prices increased for each of the major finished goods categories in February. The price index for consumer goods increased 0.5% in February, led in part by higher prices for medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical materials. The February increase in consumer goods prices was the largest monthly advance since December 2021. Capital goods prices rose 0.3% for the second consecutive month in February and those are the largest one-month advances since May 2022. Prices for automotive vehicles increased 0.2% in February, after rising 0.3% the previous month. Both monthly advances were driven by higher parts prices.