April 12, 2012
U.S. import prices advanced 1.3 percent in March; higher fuel and nonfuel prices contributed to the advance. U.S. export prices increased 0.8 percent in March, the largest monthly advance for the index since a 0.8-percent rise in April 2011.
From March 2011 to March 2012, import prices increased 3.4 percent. Overall export prices rose only 0.9 percent over the past 12 months, the smallest year-over-year advance since a 0.4 percent rise for the November 2008–November 2009 period.
A 3.8-percent rise in import fuel prices led the March increase in overall import prices. For the year ended in March, prices for import fuel rose 7.4 percent, driven by a 9.6-percent advance in petroleum prices. In contrast, natural gas prices fell 37.8 percent over the past 12 months.
In March, the price index for nonfuel imports increased 0.5 percent. From March 2011 to March 2012, nonfuel import prices increased 2.0 percent, the smallest year-over-year advance since a 1.9-percent rise for the year ended in February 2010.
Prices for agricultural exports rose 2.7 percent in March. An 8.3-percent increase in soybean prices and a 2.6-percent rise in corn prices more than offset a 6.5-percent drop in cotton prices. Despite the monthly increase, overall agricultural prices decreased 5.5 percent over the past year.
The price index for nonagricultural exports rose 0.5 percent in March, led by a 1.3-percent increase in nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials prices. Nonagricultural prices rose 1.7 percent over the past 12 months.
These data are from the BLS International Price program. Import and export price data are subject to revision. For more information, see "U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes — March 2012" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-12-0664.