Prices for U.S. imports increased 0.4 percent in February following declines of 3.1 percent in January and 2.5 percent in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. An upturn in fuel prices led the February rise. U.S. export prices edged down 0.1 percent in February, after a 1.9 percent drop the previous month.
The February advance was the first monthly rise since a 0.3 percent increase in June 2014, and the largest one month advance since the index rose 0.5 percent in March 2014. Despite the February increase, import prices fell 9.4 percent over the past 12 months, the largest year-over-year decrease since the index fell 12 percent between September 2008 and September 2009.
Import fuel prices increased 6.5 percent in February, the first advance since a 1.6 percent rise in June 2014. The February increase was the largest monthly advance since the index rose 7.6 percent in April 2011, and followed a 19.5 percent drop in January, the largest one month decline since a 22.2 percent drop in December 2008. An 8.1 percent advance in petroleum prices led the February increase in the price index for fuel, more than offsetting a 17.9 percent drop in natural gas prices. Despite the February upturn, fuel prices declined 43 percent over the past year.
Prices for nonfuel imports fell 0.3 percent in February, after a 0.6 percent drop the previous month. The price index for nonfuel imports has not recorded a monthly advance since the index ticked up 0.1 percent in July 2014. In February, decreasing prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; capital goods; automotive vehicles; and foods, feeds, and beverages all contributed to the overall drop in nonfuel prices. In contrast, consumer goods prices increased in February. Nonfuel import prices fell 1.2 percent for the year ended in February.