Market news

15 September 2021

U.S. import-price index unexpectedly declines in August

The Labor Department reported on Wednesday the import-price index, measuring the cost of goods ranging from Canadian oil to Chinese electronics, fell 0.3 percent m-o-m in August, following a revised 0.4 percent m-o-m advance in July (originally a 0.3 percent m-o-m gain). This was the first monthly decline for the index since October 2020. Economists had expected prices to increase 0.3 percent m-o-m last month.

According to the report, the August drop was driven by lower fuel (-2.3 percent m-o-m) and nonfuel (-0.1 percent m-o-m) prices.

Over the 12-month period ended in August, import prices jumped 9.0 percent, with higher fuel (+56.5 percent) and nonfuel (+5.6 percent) prices contributing to the surge. This, however, was the smallest 12-month increase since March 2021.

Meanwhile, the price index for U.S. exports rose 0.4 percent m-o-m in August, following a revised 1.1 percent m-o-m increase in the previous month (originally a 1.3 percent m-o-m climb). This was the smallest one-month gain since October 2020. U.S. export prices have not recorded a monthly decrease since April 2020. Economists had forecast export prices to increase 0.4 percent m-o-m in August.

The August advance was driven by higher prices for both agricultural (+1.1 percent m-o-m) and nonagricultural (+0.2 percent m-o-m) exports.

Over the past 12 months, the price index for exports climbed 16.8 percent, reflecting climbs in prices of both agricultural exports (+33.4 percent) and nonagricultural exports (+14.9 percent).

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