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First Cut: Import prices nudge higher on fuels in September

The Import Price Index for September nudged up 0.2% after an upward revision in August to down 0.2% (previously down 0.1%). The increase was mainly due to fuels prices which rose 2.1%. on a 2.3% increase in petroleum prices that more than offset declines in natural gas prices of 3.7%.

Import prices were down 1.6% compared to September 2018 and were 1.1% lower for prices excluding fuels.

Elsewhere in the September data there was little sign of upward price pressures for finished goods, in part on a strengthening in the US dollar that made imported goods less expensive.   Capital goods prices were flat in September from August, as were prices for motor vehicles and parts, and also consumer goods excluding autos.

Among industrial supplies, there were higher costs for selected building materials (up 0.7%), unfinished metals for durables manufacturing (up 2.0%), and finished metals for durables manufacturing (up 0.4%).

In evaluating the inflation data available so far for September, when the FOMC next meets on October 29-30, it will have scant evidence of upward price pressures for imported goods.

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