Import and Export Prices
Cross-border price pressures remain negative with import prices down 0.4 percent in November and export prices down 0.6 percent. Petroleum fell 2.5 percent in the month but is not an isolated factor pulling prices down as non-petroleum import prices fell 0.3 percent in the month. Agricultural exports are the wildcard on the export side and they fell a sizable 1.1 percent but here too, the deflationary pull is widespread with non-agricultural export prices down 0.6 percent.
Year-on-year contraction is perhaps less severe than prior months but not by much. Import prices are down a year-on-year 9.4 percent with non-petroleum import prices at minus 3.4 percent. Import prices from Canada are down the heaviest, at minus 18.0 percent on the year, with Latin America next at minus 12.7 percent. Showing the least price weakness are imports from China at minus 1.5 percent. Export prices are down 6.3 percent on the year with non-agricultural prices down 5.7 percent.
Of special concern are continuing incremental decreases for prices of finished goods, both imports and exports. Federal Reserve policy makers have been waiting for an easing drag from low import prices, not to mention oil prices as well, with neither yet to appear. Contraction in import prices not only reflects low commodity prices but also the strength of the dollar which has been giving U.S. buyers more for their dollars.
Dec 10 (Reuters) — Big Japanese manufacturers’ sentiment worsened in October-December, a government survey showed. The business survey index (BSI) of sentiment at large manufacturers stood at plus 3.8 in October-December, compared with plus 11.0 in July-September, according to the joint survey by the Ministry of Finance and the Economic and Social Research Institute, an arm of the Cabinet Office, released on Thursday. The BSI measures the percentage of firms that expect the business environment to improve from the previous quarter minus the percentage that expect it to worsen.