US import prices fall 0.5% in April from March, driven mainly by lower fuel prices, as export prices dip 0.7%: Dept. of Labor

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

May 14, 2013 – U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL)

WASHINGTON , May 14, 2013 (press release) – U.S. import prices fell 0.5 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, following a 0.2 percent decrease in March. Lower prices for both fuel and nonfuel imports contributed to the declines in each month. Prices for U.S. exports decreased 0.7 percent in April after a 0.5 percent decline in March.


All Imports: The price index for U.S. imports decreased for the second consecutive month in April, after increasing the two months prior to March. The April decrease was largely driven by lower fuel prices, although nonfuel prices also declined in April. Import prices fell 2.6 percent over the past 12 months, the largest year-over-year decline since a 3.3 percent decrease between July 2011 and July 2012.

Fuel Imports: Fuel prices continued to decline in April, decreasing 1.7 percent after falling 0.6 percent in March. In April, a 1.9 percent decline in petroleum prices more than offset a 6.1 percent increase in the price index for natural gas, the first advance in natural gas prices since a 16.6 percent rise in December 2012. The price index for import fuels decreased 7.8 percent for the year ended in April and has not recorded a year-over-year advance since March 2012. The annual decline in fuel prices was led by a 9.5 percent drop in petroleum prices, which more than offset an 83.8 percent rise in natural gas prices.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel import prices also fell in April, decreasing 0.2 percent following a 0.1 percent drop the previous month. Lower prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; capital goods; automotive vehicles; and foods, feeds, and beverages more than offset a 0.3 percent advance in consumer goods prices. The price index for nonfuel imports fell 0.7 percent over the past 12 months.

Table A. Import and export price indexes, selected categories

Percent changes





-0.1 -0.9 0.2 0.4 2.0 0.2


-1.5 -5.6 -0.1 -0.5 0.5 -0.6


-2.3 -8.5 -0.3 -1.7 -3.5 -1.5


-0.7 -2.0 -0.4 0.4 6.0 -0.2


1.2 6.1 -0.2 0.9 4.8 0.4


1.0 3.9 0.2 0.8 1.3 0.7


0.3 0.1 0.2 0.1 -1.7 0.3


-0.7 -2.2 -0.2 -0.6 0.5 -0.7


-0.6 -2.2 -0.1 -0.1 0.1 -0.2




0.5 (r)1.9 0.2 0.4 -1.2 0.5


(r)0.9 (r)3.7 0.1 0.7 (r)2.0 0.6


(r)-0.2 (r)-0.6 (r)-0.1 (r)-0.5 (r)-1.9 (r)-0.3


-0.5 -1.7 -0.2 -0.7 -2.2 -0.5

Apr. 2011 to 2012

0.8 -0.5 1.3 0.7 -3.1 1.2

Apr. 2012 to 2013

-2.6 -7.8 -0.7 -0.9 4.2 -1.5

(r) Revised


All Exports: The price index for U.S. exports declined 0.7 percent in April, the largest monthly decrease since the index fell 1.7 percent in June 2012. Falling prices for both nonagricultural and agricultural exports each contributed to the decline. U.S. export prices also fell for the April 2012-13 period, decreasing 0.9 percent. The 12-month decrease was led by lower nonagricultural prices, which more than offset rising agricultural prices over the past year.

Agricultural Exports: Agricultural prices fell 2.2 percent in April after decreasing 1.9 percent in March. The April decline was driven by an 8.1 percent drop in corn prices, a 6.2 percent decrease in soybean prices, and a 7.7 percent fall in nut prices. Despite the recent monthly decreases, overall agricultural prices rose 4.2 percent for the year ended in April.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture: The price index for nonagricultural exports decreased 0.5 percent in April, led by a 1.0 percent decline in nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials prices. Each of the major finished goods categories decreased or was unchanged in April. Nonagricultural export prices fell 1.5 percent for the year ended in April, the largest year-over-year decline since a 1.5 percent decrease in September 2012.


Import Prices

Imports by Locality of Origin: Prices for imports from Japan decreased 0.6 percent in April, the largest monthly decline since a 0.6 percent drop in September 2008. The April decrease followed declines of 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent for the two previous months. The fall in import prices from Japan over the past three months paralleled a drop in the value of the Japanese yen relative to the U.S. dollar during the first quarter of 2013. Prices for imports from China fell for the second consecutive month in April, edging down 0.1 percent following a 0.2 percent decrease in March. Import prices from China have not recorded a monthly advance since a 0.1 percent rise in February 2012 and decreased 0.9 percent over the past year. Prices for
imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union also decreased in April, falling 0.6 percent, 0.9 percent, and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: The price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials declined 0.7 percent in April after decreasing 0.5 percent the previous month. The decline was primarily led by a 2.2 percent drop in unfinished metals prices.

Finished Goods: Capital goods prices fell for the third consecutive month in April, down 0.2 percent. Prices for capital goods declined 0.6 percent over the past year, the largest 12-month decrease since a 0.7 percent drop in February 2010. The price index for automotive vehicles decreased 0.3 percent in April, led by a 0.4 percent decline in passenger cars prices. In contrast, consumer goods prices rose 0.3 percent in April, led by a 1.8 percent advance in medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical prices.

Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: Foods, feeds, and beverages prices decreased 0.5 percent in April after rising 1.6 percent in March. The decline was led by a 7.4 percent drop in vegetable prices, which followed an 11.5 percent increase the previous month.

Transportation Services: Import air passenger fares rose 0.3 percent after three consecutive monthly declines. Higher European and Asian fares contributed to the April advance. The index for import air passenger fares increased 1.2 percent for the year ended in April. In contrast, import air freight prices decreased 0.9 percent in April and 2.4 percent over the past year.

Export Prices

Nonagricultural Industrial Supplies and Materials: Nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials prices declined 1.0 percent in April, following a 0.8 percent drop in March. Both declines were driven by lower fuel prices, although nonferrous metal prices and prices for chemicals each decreased in April as well.

Finished Goods: Finished goods prices decreased overall in April. Prices for capital goods fell 0.2 percent, led by a 2.0 percent drop in semiconductor prices. The price index for consumer goods declined 0.3 percent driven by lower prices for medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical products. Automotive vehicles prices were unchanged in April.

Transportation Services: Export air passenger fares fell 3.2 percent in April, following a 0.9 percent advance in March. A 5.7 percent drop in Asian fares, a 4.1 percent decline in European fares, and a 3.3 percent decrease in Latin American/Caribbean fares each contributed to the decline. In contrast, the price index for export air freight rose 0.3 percent in April.

Import and Export Price Index data for May 2013 are scheduled for release on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

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