Import Prices See Largest Drop Since 2008

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U.S. import prices fell 2.8 percent in January, after declining 1.9 percent in December and 1.8 percent in November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Decreasing fuel prices drove each of the monthly drops. The price index for U.S. exports decreased 2 percent in January, and has not recorded a monthly advance since July.

The price index for U.S. imports declined 2.8 percent in January. The index has not recorded a monthly advance since June 2014, and the January drop was the largest 1-month decrease since the index fell 4.6 percent in December 2008. U.S. import prices decreased 8 percent between January 2014 and January 2015, the largest 12-month decline since the index fell 12 percent in September 2009.

Fuel prices fell 16.9 percent in January following declines of 11.3-percent in December and 9.2-percent in October. The January decrease was the largest monthly drop for the index since a 22.2-percent decline in December 2008.

Lower petroleum and natural gas prices, down 17.7 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively, each contributed to the January decrease in overall fuel prices. The price index for import fuel declined 39 percent over the past 12 months, the largest year-over-year drop since the index fell 41 percent between August 2008 and August 2009.

In January, the 12-month decline in fuel prices was led by a 40.1-percent decrease in petroleum prices and a 29-percent drop in natural gas prices.

Prices for nonfuel imports fell 0.7 percent in January and have not recorded a monthly advance since July 2014. The January decline matches the 0.7-percent drop in January 2009, and those were the largest 1-month decreases since the index fell 1.1 percent in December 2008.

Decreases in prices for each of the major finished goods categories; nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; and foods, feeds, and beverages all contributed to the overall decline in nonfuel import prices. The price index for nonfuel imports decreased 0.9 percent for the year ended in January.

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