June 14, 2018
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its latest release that prices for both U.S. imports and export rose 0.6% for the second consecutive month in May. For imports, rising fuel and nonfuel prices contributed to the advances in both months. However, higher prices for both agricultural and non-agricultural exports were the main drivers for the increase in export prices.
Import prices was largely driven by higher fuel prices although nonfuel prices also increased over the past year. Import fuel prices rose 4.9% in May, after a 4.1% advance in April. The May rise was the largest monthly increase since the index rose 9.8% in November 2017. In May, the advance in fuel prices was led by a 5.9% increase in petroleum prices which more than offset a 19.5% drop in natural gas prices. Prices for import fuel increased 28.6% over the past 12 months, driven by a 31.9% rise in petroleum prices. In contrast, natural gas prices fell 18.5% over the past year.
Similarly, prices for U.S. exports rose 0.6% for the second consecutive month in May, led by higher prices for both agricultural and nonagricultural exports. The price index for overall exports advanced 4.9% between May 2017 and May 2018, the largest 12-month increase since the index rose 6.3% in October 2011. The price index for agricultural exports advanced 1.6% in May following a 1.2% decline the previous month. The May increase was driven by a 10.1% advance in wheat prices, a 4.4% rise in corn prices, and a 1.8% increase in soybean prices. Prices for agricultural exports also rose over the past 12 months, advancing 4.9%. Nonagricultural export prices advanced 0.5% in May and have not recorded a monthly drop since the index fell 0.% in October 2017. The increase was driven by higher prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials, although rising prices for capital goods and automotive vehicles also contributed to the May rise. Prices for overall nonagricultural exports increased 4.9% for the year ended in May.
Nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices rose 0.8% in May following a 0.6% advance the previous month. In May, higher prices for metals and selected building materials more than offset lower chemicals prices. Finished goods prices were mixed in May. Prices for capital goods and automotive vehicles each edged down 0.1%. The decline in capital goods prices was the first monthly drop since a 0.1% decrease in November 2017. In contrast, prices for consumer goods ticked up 0.1%, led by higher prices for medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical materials. Foods, feeds, and beverages prices increased 0.4% in May, after falling 0.3% in April. Rising prices for fruit and grains were the largest contributors to the May advance. Import air passenger fares declined 2.5% in May following a 2.8% rise in April. The May decrease was driven by lower European and Latin American/Caribbean fares which more than offset rising Asian fares. Despite the May decrease, import air passenger fares rose 1.2% over the past 12 months. The price index for import air freight advanced 1.6% in May and 18.2% over the past year.
The price index for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials advanced 1.6% in May, after rising 1.3% in April. Both increases were led by advancing fuel prices which rose 4.6% in May and 3.4% the previous month. Export finished goods prices recorded little movement in May. Capital goods prices ticked up 0.1% following a 0.6% rise in April. Prices for capital goods have not recorded a monthly decline since the index edged down 0.1% in October 2016. The price index for export automotive vehicles also rose 0.1% in May. In contrast, consumer goods prices fell 0.1%. The index for export air passenger fares fell 11.4% in May following a 16.2% increase the previous month. The May decline was driven by lower Asian and European fares. Export air passenger fares advanced 9.3% for the year ended in May. Prices for export air freight rose 0.7% in May and 3.0% over the past 12 months.
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