U.S. export prices are up, but import prices are up even more, according to a Labor Department report (link opens a PDF) released today. The U.S. imports price index rose 1.1% for February after a 0.6% bump the previous month. Export prices continued to lag, up 0.8% after increasing just 0.3% in January.
The increases outweighed market analyst expectations of a 0.6% increase for import prices and 0.2% bump for export prices, but price spikes in petroleum products account for essentially all of import's price increase.
Import prices from China rose 0.1% in February, the first increase in 12 months, and was due primarily to computer and electronic equipment manufacturing prices. In the past year, natural gas import prices have jumped 29.7% for the largest increase, while unfinished metals for durable goods have dropped 3.9% in price.
A 2% increase in agricultural product prices helped support exports' price bump. Food, feed, and non-liquor beverage export prices have jumped 15.5% in the past year, far and above the largest export price gain. On the other end of the spectrum, fuel and lubricant pricing has dropped 2.5% since February 2012.