August 19, 2022

Cost of Imports Rises, Despite Dip in Fuel Costs

The 0.2 percent increase in the import-price index, its eighth consecutive gain, followed a revised 2.1 percent climb in April, Labor Department figures released Friday showed. Economists projected a 0.7 percent decrease for last month, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Costs advanced 12.5 percent from May 2010, the biggest 12-month increase since September 2008.

Growing demand from economies in Asia and Latin America, paired with a weaker dollar, is pushing up the cost of goods from abroad for businesses. At the same time, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, has reiterated that he expects elevated commodity costs to moderate.

“Higher prices given the weaker dollar are something that the economy is going to have deal with going forward,” said Russell T. Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial in Detroit. “Retailers and food vendors are seeing their costs rise.”

Projections in the Bloomberg survey of 55 economists ranged from decreases of 2 percent to increases of 0.3 percent.

Compared with a year earlier, import prices rose 12.5 percent, the biggest 12-month gain since September 2008. They were forecast to increase 11.2 percent over the last 12 months.

The cost of imported petroleum decreased 0.4 percent from the prior month and was up 45 percent from a year earlier.

Excluding all fuels, import prices increased 0.4 percent from the prior month. They were up 4.4 percent from May 2010, matching the year-over-year gains in the prior two months as the largest since October 2008.

Costs of imported automobiles increased 0.5 percent from the prior month, Friday’s report showed. Consumer goods excluding vehicles showed a 0.3 percent gain, led by a 0.7 percent gain for cotton apparel.

Imported food prices fell 0.5 percent, the first decrease since June 2010.

The cost of goods from China rose 0.3 percent, while those from Japan were unchanged.

American export prices increased 0.2 percent after rising 0.9 percent the previous month. Prices of farm exports fell 2 percent, while those of nonfarm goods climbed 0.5 percent.

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