Import Prices Post First Decline In Six Months

By John S. McClenahen The U.S. Import Price Index fell 0.6% in June, the first time it has declined since December 2001, reports the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The index now stands at 93.8 (2000 = 100). Most economists expected the June figure to be unchanged from May's mark. The drop in the overall import price index last month was primarily attributable to a 6.6% decline in prices for imported petroleum. That was a dramatic contrast to the price behavior during the first five months of this year, a period in which the imported petroleum price index advanced 47.1%. The U.S. Export Price Index, also calculated by BLS, was unchanged in June at 97.9. Economists had anticipated a 0.1% increase. The capital goods index, which accounts for nearly half of all U.S. exports, declined 0.6% in June, following a 0.2% decrease in May. Lower prices for computer peripherals, accessories, and semiconductors continued to pace the decline, BLS says. During the past 12 months, prices of capital-goods exports have fallen 1.7%.

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