The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that January’s import prices increased by 0.3 percent; rising for the second time in three months and reversing a 0.1 percent fall in prices in December 2011. Both fuel and nonfuel imports contributed to the higher prices. U.S. exports also rose for the month, increasing 0.2 percent after having fallen 0.5 percent in December. Between June and October, import prices had trended downward, but overall import prices increased by 7.1 between January 2011 and January 2012.
Fuel import prices increased 1 percent after having decreased 0.6 percent in December. The price increase was a result of a 1.2 percent increase in the price of petroleum. Natural gas continued to fall for the month, dropping 5.8 percent, succeeding a 4.1 percent decline in December. For the 12-month period ending in January, the price of fuel increased 20.8 percent, driven by a 23.7 percent increase in petroleum prices which offset the 22.5 percent dip in the natural gas price index.
Nonfuel import prices rose 0.1 percent in January following a 0.2 percent advance in December. Non-fuel price indexes such as food, feeds and beverages, capital goods, and vehicles increased over the month. In contrast, other non-fuel categories such as industrial supplies and materials and consumer goods fell in price. Non-fuel import prices rose 2.9 percent over the 12-month period ending in January.
Overall export prices increase by 0.2 percent in January moved by a rise in agricultural prices. For the year ending in January, export prices rose 2.5 percent, the smallest annual increase since the period between November 2008 and November 2009. Agricultural exports experienced a 1.1 percent price increase for the month after plummeting 7.3 percent in Q4 2011. The rise was spurred by a jump in soybean and corn prices which rose 6.3 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. Over the year ending in January, agricultural prices declined by 1 percent. Non-agricultural export prices did not change in January but had increased by 3 percent during the period between January 2011 and January 2012.