The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

U.S. Import & Export Prices Up in May

Increased fuel prices drove the May advance.

Prices for U.S. imports increased 1.3 percent in May following declines in each of the previous 10 months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The May advance was driven by an increase in fuel prices. The price index for U.S. exports rose 0.6 percent in May, after a 0.7 percent decrease in April.

Prices for U.S. imports advanced 1.3 percent in May, after decreasing 0.2 percent in both April and March, and 0.4 percent in February. The May increase was the first monthly rise since the index advanced 0.3 percent in June 2014 and the largest one month increase since the index rose 1.4 percent in March 2012. Despite the May increase, prices for imports decreased 9.6 percent over the past year, and have not recorded  a 12 month rise since the index advanced 0.9 percent between July 2013 and July 2014.

Import fuel prices rose 11.8 percent in May following a 1.3 percent advance in April and a 1.4 percent increase in March. The May rise was the largest monthly advance since the index increased 16 percent in June 2009. A 12.7 percent jump in petroleum prices in May led the advance in overall fuel prices. The price index for import natural gas declined 0.2 percent in May. Despite the May increase, fuel prices fell 40 percent over the past year. A 40.6 percent drop in petroleum prices and a 41.9 percent decrease in natural gas prices both contributed to the overall decline.

Prices for nonfuel imports recorded no change in May, after decreasing 0.3 percent the previous month. Nonfuel import prices have not increased on a monthly basis since the index ticked up 0.1 percent in July 2014. In May, rising prices for foods, feeds and beverages offset lower prices for capital goods; nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; and automotive vehicles. Prices for nonfuel imports fell 2.2 percent for the year ended in May. Decreasing prices for finished goods; nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; and foods, feeds and beverages all contributed to the overall 12 month decline.            

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