Export & Import Prices Continued to Moderate in January 2012

January 2012 export prices rose 0.2% month-over-month while import prices rose 0.3%. The January rise in import prices is due to fuels / lubricants and foods, while the rise in export prices was driven by agriculture exports.

The data is continuing to indicate that the run up in prices seen since mid-2010 is over. Exports now up only 2.5% year-over-year and imports up 7.1%.

All Imports: Overall import prices increased for the second time in three months in January, rising 0.3 percent following a 0.1 percent downturn in December and a 0.7 percent advance in November. Prior to the past three months, import prices had trended mostly down between June and October. However, the price index for overall imports rose 7.1 percent over the past 12 months. In January, both a 1.0 percent increase in fuel prices and a 0.1 percent uptick in nonfuel prices contributed to the monthly rise.

All Exports: The price index for overall exports rose 0.2 percent in January, led by higher agricultural prices, after declining 0.5 percent in December. Export prices advanced 2.5 percent for the year ended in January, the smallest year-over-year increase since a 0.4 percent rise between November 2008 and November 2009.

The YoY data is now being compared to the steep inflationary cycle which began in mid-2010.

There are different rates of inflation occurring in the economy according to multiple measurements by a single agency (BLS):

Each rate of inflation is measuring a different pulse point, and each represents the breadbasket of costs / prices relative to that grouping. It should be pointed out that fuel import prices are up 20.8% year-over-year, and has a 24.3% weight in the import index. Few consumers spend 24.3% of their income on fuel.

Caveats on the Use of the Export / Import Price Index

Both import and export prices index values shown in this post is a weighted average for the the entire category of exports or imports. The BLS has many sub-categories relating to a particular commodity or goods. Econintersect using spot checks believes these subindexes are accurate.

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