U.S. Import Prices Rose 0.9 Percent in August

U.S. import prices rose 0.9% in August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, following advances of 1.2% in July and 1.4% in June. Higher prices for both fuel and nonfuel imports contributed to the August increase. Prices for U.S. exports also advanced in August, rising 0.5%, after increasing 0.9% the previous month.

Prices for U.S. imports advanced 0.9% in August, after rising 3.3% from April to July. Prior to that, import prices decreased 5.6% from January to April. Despite the recent increases, U.S. import prices declined 1.4% for the year ended in August.

Fuel Imports: The price index for import fuel rose 3.3% in August following increases of 15.1% in July, 21.3% in June, and 13.9% in May. In August, higher prices for both petroleum and natural gas contributed to the advance. Petroleum prices increased 2.9% in August, after rising 63.3% from April to July. The price index for natural gas advanced 12.2% in August following a 9.1% drop the previous month. Despite the increases in each of the past four months, import fuel prices fell 22.2% from August 2019 to August 2020. Prices for petroleum declined 24.1% and natural gas prices increased 53.0 percent over the past year.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel import prices rose 0.7% in August, after increasing 0.2% in July and 0.3% in June. The August advance was the largest monthly increase since a 0.8% rise in April 2011. In August, the increase was driven by a 3.6% advance in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices. The price index for nonfuel imports rose 0.8% from August 2019 to August 2020.

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: The price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials rose 3.6% in August, the largest one-month advance since the index was first published in December 2001. The August increase was led by higher prices for unfinished metals and selected building materials.

Finished Goods: Prices for each of the major finished goods categories increased in August. Consumer goods prices rose 0.2%, after advancing 0.3% in July. The August increase was driven by higher prices for coins, gems, jewelry, and collectibles. Prices for capital goods and automotive vehicles each ticked up 0.1% in August.

Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: Foods, feeds, and beverages prices advanced 0.4% in August following declines of 0.9% in July and 0.4% in June. The increase in August was led by rising prices for meat, food oils and oilseeds, and vegetables.