Monthly pressure in petroleum did send import prices higher in March, but not enough to upend what is a favorably subdued trend. Import prices rose 1.3 percent in March with prices of imported petroleum products surging 4.3 percent. The rise in petroleum bled through to industrial supplies which jumped 3.0 percent in the month, a rise that no doubt made for headaches among manufacturers. But many of the year-on-year rates are moderating with the headline rate at plus 3.4 percent -- down from double digits as recently as November and the lowest rate of the recovery. Year-on-year rates remain subdued for finished goods, at plus 1.1 percent for capital goods and at plus 2.7 percent for consumer goods.
It was a monthly upswing in agricultural prices that drove export prices up 0.8 percent in March. But here too, the year-on-year rate is subdued, in fact especially subdued at only plus 0.9 percent and at minus 5.5 percent for prices of agricultural exports.
This report is mixed, headlined as it is by the jump in petroleum prices. But oil prices have been edging lower this month which, at least so far, points to an April downswing for petroleum. Year-on-year rates aside, today's report does point to monthly headline pressure for Thursday's producer price report and the consumer price report on Friday.
Market Consensus before announcement
Import prices jumped a sizable 0.4 percent in February due to higher petroleum prices. Year-on-year, import prices were up 5.5 percent for the smallest rise in more than two years.
Prices of petroleum imports surged 1.8 percent in February for a year-on-year gain of 18.4 percent. Prices on the export side also rose 0.4 percent in the month but year-on-year, export prices are up only 1.5 percent. Agricultural prices have been swinging back and forth and swung 0.9 percent lower in February.