Import prices increasing by 6.9% YOY in pre-Japan crisis data

Import & export prices showed extending inflationary pressures in what before the ongoing Japanese crisis would have raised further concern over the price outlook. In data for February, import prices jumped 1.4% for the month - 6.9% YOY - to extend a long string of similar outsized gains. Excluding another big monthly surge in petroleum, this time 3.7%, import prices rose 0.6% to also extend a trend of sizable gains. There were also indications that some of this pressure was making it to final goods as consumer goods and capital goods both show 0.2% gains in the month, still tame but above trend.

Export prices showed similar pressure, up 1.2% for the month - 6.9% YOY.  But the still unfolding Japanese catastrophe is now bringing commodity prices down including oil and food prices which point to a much different report for March. Via BLS:

U.S. import prices rose 1.4 percent in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, following a similar 1.3 percent advance in January. The price index for U.S. exports increased 1.2 percent in February after rising 1.3 percent the previous month. Higher agricultural and nonagricultural export prices each contributed to the overall advance in February.

Imports

All Imports: Prices for imports rose 1.4 percent in February, continuing a five-month trend of monthly increases greater than 1.0 percent. Import prices advanced 6.9 percent for the year ended in February, driven by a 7.0 percent jump for the index over the past five months. The year-over-year rise in February was the largest 12-month advance since an 8.5 percent increase for the year ended in May 2010. Higher prices for both fuel and nonfuel import prices contributed to the increase in February and over the past year.

Fuel Imports: Fuel prices increased 4.0 percent in February following a 3.5 percent advance the previous month. Rising prices for both petroleum and natural gas factored into the February increase, advancing 3.7 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively. Fuel prices rose 18.6 percent over the past 12 months, led by a 20.6 percent jump in petroleum prices. Despite rising 23.4 percent over the past two months, however, natural gas prices declined 10.9 percent between February 2010 and February 2011.

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