Driven by a steep drop in fuel prices, U.S. import prices fell sharply in May, according to figures released Tuesday by the Labor Department, while prices for U.S. exported goods fell for the first time in 2012.
The overall price index for U.S. imports fell by 1 percent in May, marking the largest monthly drop since June of 2010.
Most economists, however, had expected a somewhat bigger 1.1 percent decline in the costs of imported goods.
On a year-over-year basis prices, for imported goods were down 0.3 percent, marking the first 12-month decline recorded since a 5.6 percent drop in October of 2009.
Export prices, which had increased by 2 percent over the first four months of the year, fell 0.4 percent in May, the first monthly decline of 2012.
Additionally, export prices edged down 0.1 percent compared to May of 2011, the first year-over-year drop since October 2009.
The largest monthly drop of imported fuel prices in two years played a big role in the overall import price decline, with fuel prices falling by 4.2 percent. Petroleum and natural gas import prices both factored in to the overall drop.
Excluding fuel prices, import prices decreased by a much more modest 0.1 percent, marking the first monthly decline since November of 2011.
Labor Department statistics said that lower food, consumer goods and automotive prices more than offset a slight increase in the costs of imported industrial supplies and materials.
Despite the overall drop in export prices, agricultural export prices rose 0.7 percent in May, led by a 5.1 percent rise in soybean prices.
Prices for non-agricultural exports fell 0.5 percent in May, however, marking the first monthly decline since December 2011, with falling prices for industrial supplies more than offsetting higher prices for exports of finished goods.
by RTT Staff Writer
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