The FINANCIAL — Prices for imported goods fell for the third straight month in September, a reminder of the downward pressure on inflation from a strong dollar and slower overseas growth, according to Nasdaq.
Import prices fell 0.1% from the prior month, the Labor Department said on October 9. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 0.5% decline.
The small monthly drop was led by lower prices on foods, capital goods and nonfuel industrial supplies. Import prices for consumer goods, petroleum and other fuels rose.
While the monthly decline was the mildest since June, overall import prices are down 10.7% from a year earlier. The year-over-year figure has declined for 14 consecutive months.
Petroleum import prices are down 46.1% from a year ago but aren’t the only drag. The index for non-petroleum imports was down 3.3% over the past year, the biggest decline since October 2009.
Weaker growth in China and other emerging markets has tamped down demand for many commodities, lowering their prices. A stronger dollar, meanwhile, makes overseas goods relatively cheaper at home.
Last month, Federal Reserve officials held off on raising interest rates from near zero in large part because of worries about when inflation would reach the central bank’s 2% target. It’s undershot for more than three years.
One big concern: “Recent global economic and financial developments had imparted some restraint to the economic outlook and placed further downward pressure on inflation in the near term,” minutes of the September meeting, released on Thursday, said.
Fed officials believe many of the factors keeping inflation so low are temporary.
U.S. export prices dropped 0.7% in September from the prior month. Export prices are down 7.4% year-over-year, the biggest decline since July 2009.
The index for non-agricultural exports is down 6.7% from a year earlier, the largest 12-month decline since the index began publication in 1985.
Unlike many other price gauges measured by the government, import prices are not seasonally adjusted.