U.S. import prices fell 2.3% while export prices decreased 1.6% in March 2020

April 15, 2020

March’s import prices decreased 2.3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics after declining 0.7% the previous month. This decline was mostly attributable to the lower prices in fuel. Nonetheless, export prices decreased 1.6% in March relative to a 1.1% decrease the previous month.

Prices for import fuel declined 26.8% in March relative to a 9.0% decrease in February. The March decrease was attributable to a 27.4% decline in petroleum prices. In addition, prices for natural gas fell by 16.5% in March. Furthermore, the price index for import fuel over the past year fell 36.2%. On the other hand, prices for nonfuel imports were virtually stable in March. According to BLS, “lower prices for consumer goods and foods, feeds, and beverages offset advancing prices for automotive vehicles, nonfuel industrial supplies and materials, and capital goods.” Moreover, prices for nonfuel imports fell 0.5% for the twelve months ended in March.

Export prices for the U.S. declined 1.6% in March. This drop was attributable to falling prices for both agricultural and non-agricultural exports. Agricultural export prices index decreased 1.4% in March, after declining 2.7% in February. The decrease was traced back to lower prices for other animal feeds, vegetables, nuts, cotton, and wheat in March which more than offset higher prices for fruit, soybeans, and meat. Over the past year, prices for agricultural exports declined 2.2%. Whereas, non-agricultural export prices fell 1.5% in March, following a decrease of 1.1% in February. Lower prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials; consumer goods; and nonagricultural foods led the March decrease in non-agricultural export prices. These decreases, however, more than offset the rising prices for capital goods and automotive vehicles. Moreover, prices for non-agricultural exports declined 3.7% from March 2019 to March 2020.

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