At plus 0.5 percent, the headline for September import prices would appear to show pressure but the details don't. When excluding a 4.1 percent monthly upswing in prices of imported petroleum, import prices come in unchanged. The strength of the dollar together with discounting by foreign sellers are keeping prices of finished goods dead flat, unchanged in the month for both vehicles and capital goods and down 0.1 percent for consumer goods.
Year-on-year rates underscore the lack of imported price pressure, unchanged for capital goods, up 0.1 percent for vehicles, and up 0.6 percent for consumer goods. Total year-on-year import prices, inflated by a 32 percent jump in petroleum, are up 3.5 percent. Without petroleum, import prices are up only 0.6 percent on the year.
One of the few areas to show any upward pressure is the price of imported foods which jumped 2.0 percent in September. The export side shows a contrast with agricultural prices down 1.4 percent in the month. Total export prices were unchanged in the month for a yearly 2.7 percent rate in contrast to agricultural prices which are down 2.3 percent. Export prices of finished goods match those on the import side, all dead flat.
By country of origin, import prices from China edged 0.1 percent lower for a third straight month with the yearly rate at plus 0.4 percent. Import prices from the European Union fell a monthly 0.2 percent with this yearly rate at plus 2.2 percent. In contrast, import prices from Canada and Mexico both show pressure, up 0.7 percent for Canada at a yearly 9.5 percent and up 0.9 percent for Mexico with this yearly rate, however, up only 0.5 percent.
Cross-border price inflation, outside of the monthly ups and downs for oil, remain subdued and with import prices, because of the strength of the dollar and despite the early effects of tit-for-tat tariffs on U.S. goods, posing no immediate threat to domestic price stability.