U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes – December 2018

Date: January 18, 2019

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, “prices for U.S. imports decreased 1.0 percent in December, after declining 1.9 percent in the prior month.” The report further mentioned that the fall in December was a result of lower fuel prices. In addition, U.S. export prices recorded a decrease of 0.6 percent in December and 0.8 percent drop in November.


In December, the price of imports went down 1.0 percent, subsequent to decreasing 1.9 percent in November and rising 0.5 percent in October. It should be noted that the downturn in November was the largest monthly decline since the index fell 3.2 percent in January 2015. In 2018, prices for imports fell 0.6 percent following a 3.2 percent rise in the previous year. The decline in 2018 was the first calendar-year drop since import prices fell 8.3 percent in 2015.

Fuel imports: Import fuels price fell 9.2 percent in December, after declining 13.3 percent in August. The decrease in December was driven by an 11.6 percent decline in petroleum prices offset by a 30.3 percent growth in natural gas prices.

All imports excluding fuel: The price index for non-fuel imports recorded no change in December, after a 0.3 percent fall in November. “Higher prices for consumer goods; automotive vehicles; and foods, feeds, and beverages offset price declines for capital goods and nonfuel industrial supplies and materials,” the BLS stated.


Export prices in the U.S. fell 0.6 percent in December following a 0.8 percent decline in November. As stated by BLS, “non-agricultural prices declined in December, more than offsetting higher prices for agricultural goods.” Despite decreasing in December, prices for U.S exports advanced 1.1 percent in 2018.

Agricultural Exports: There was a climb of 3.9 percent in December, which was the largest increase for the index since a 4.8 percent rise in August 2012. BLS indicated that, “Agricultural export prices rose 2.5 percent in 2018, after increasing 1.9 percent in 2017. The 2018 increase was the largest calendar-year advance since the price index for agricultural exports rose 13.4 percent in 2012.”

All imports excluding agriculture: Non-agricultural export prices decrease 1.1 percent in December, after declining 1.0 percent in November and rising 0.5 percent in October. Lower prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials led the December decrease, more than offsetting rising consumer goods and automotive vehicles prices. Despite the December decline, non-agricultural export prices advanced 1.0 percent in 2018.


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