Led by lower petroleum prices, the U.S. Import Price Index fell 1.3% in December 2004, much more than economists generally expected, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Jan. 13. December's decline came on top of a 0.2% decrease in November and was the largest monthly decline in the import price index since April 2003. Following a series of sharp price increases, prices for imported petroleum fell in both November and December 2004, with December's decline amounting to 11.5%, roughly double November's 5.7%.
On the export side of things, prices increased for both agricultural and non-agricultural items in December, and the department's U.S. Export Price Index advanced 0.2%. Contributing to the 0.1% increase in prices for nonagricultural exports in December were a 0.3% rise in the prices for consumer goods exports and a 0.1% rise in prices of capital goods exports.