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U.S. Import And Export Prices Show Continued Decreases In January

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U.S. import and export prices both fell by much more than anticipated in the month of January, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The report said import prices fell by 0.5 percent in January after tumbling by 1.0 percent in December, while economists had expected import prices to edge down by 0.1 percent.

The bigger than expected decrease in import prices was partly due to another steep drop in prices for fuel imports, which plunged by 3.2 percent in January after plummeting by 8.6 percent in December.

A 44.2 percent nosedive in prices for natural gas led the way lower, with natural gas prices pulling back sharply after spiking by 138.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Excluding the decrease in prices for fuel imports, import prices still dipped by 0.2 percent in January after coming in unchanged in the previous month.

Falling prices for non-fuel industrial supplies and materials, consumer goods, automotive vehicles, and foods, feeds, and beverages more than offset higher prices for capital goods.

The Labor Department also said export prices slid by 0.6 percent for the second consecutive month in January. Economists had expected export prices to slip by 0.1 percent.

Prices for agricultural exports showed a substantial pullback, tumbling by 2.1 percent in January after surging up by 3.8 percent in December. Vegetable prices plunged by 34.6 percent.

The report said prices for non-agricultural exports also fell by 0.3 percent in January after plunging by 1.1 percent in the previous month.

Decreasing prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials and consumer goods more than offset higher prices for capital goods and automotive vehicles.

Compared to the same month a year ago, import prices were down by 1.7 percent in January, the largest over-the-year decline since August of 2016.

Export prices were also down by 0.2 percent year-over-year, reflecting the first 12-month decline since November of 2016.

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