Import and export prices were both up for March, according to a Labor Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.
Import prices increased 0.6% for March after a 0.9% hike in February. Analysts had expected just 0.2% price growth. More expensive fuel (up 1.2% due primarily to a 21.7% jump in natural gas prices) played a part in the price increase, but so did nonfuel prices, up 0.3%. Despite the rise, import prices are still 0.6% below March 2013 levels.
While natural gas helped push import prices up, export prices made a relatively larger percentage gain, up 0.8%. After February's revised 0.7% increase, analyst had expected a smaller 0.3% price bump. Boosts in soybean, wheat, meat, and corn prices all helped push agricultural export prices up 2.7% for March. Nonagricultural exports edged up 0.5%, with gains recorded for industrial supplies and materials, capital goods, and consumer goods.
On a regional basis, import prices from Japan and the European Union edged up 0.1%, while China imports fell 0.1% in price.