Prices for U.S. imports decreased 0.3 percent in March following a 0.2 percent upturn the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In March, lower nonfuel prices more than offset a rise in fuel prices. The price index for U.S. exports rose in March, ticking up 0.1 percent, after declining 0.2 percent in February.
The 0.2 percent February advance was the first monthly rise since a 0.3 percent increase in June 2014. Prior to February, import prices decreased 10.3 percent from June 2014 to January 2015. U.S. import prices declined 10.5 percent over the past year, the largest 12-month decrease since the index fell 12 percent for the year ended September 2009.
Import fuel prices increased for the second consecutive month in March, rising 0.4 percent, after a 3.9 percent advance in February. Fuel prices had fallen 47.6 percent between June 2014 and January 2015, and despite the recent upturn, declined 45.2 percent over the past 12 months. The increase in March was led by a 0.8 percent advance in petroleum prices, which more than offset a 7.5 percent decrease in natural gas prices. Both the price indexes for petroleum and natural gas fell for the year ended in March, declining 45.1 percent and 59.1 percent, respectively.
Prices for nonfuel imports continued to trend down in March, decreasing 0.4 percent following a 0.3 percent drop the previous month. Nonfuel import prices have not recorded a monthly increase since the index rose 0.1 percent in July 2014. In March, lower prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; foods, feeds, and beverages; and each of the major finished goods categories contributed to the overall decline in nonfuel import prices. Prices for nonfuel imports fell 1.9 percent over the past 12 months, the largest year-over-year decrease since the index declined 3.1 percent between October 2008 and October 2009.