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U.S. import prices declined in April by the biggest monthly drop in more than five years, as fuel import prices slumped by the most since records began in 1992, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Thursday.
U.S. import prices fell by 2.6 percent in April, after a 2.4-percent drop in March, with both monthly declines led by falling fuel prices, the BLS said.
In March and April, crude oil prices slumped by 60 percent from their recent highs in January after the previous OPEC+ pact fell apart in early March and Saudi Arabia waged an oil price war for market share by discounting deeply its oil for April. The global oil demand loss due to the lockdowns and travel restrictions in the coronavirus pandemic further depressed international benchmark prices as demand crashed by around 30 percent in April.
Prices for imported fuel plunged by 31.5 percent in April, after a 26.0-percent decline in March, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed.
The April decline was the largest one-month drop since the U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes were first published monthly in September 1992, the BLS said. The drop in import fuel prices was mostly driven by a 33.0-percent drop in the price index for import petroleum, while natural gas prices also declined in April, by 3.3 percent.
On a yearly basis, prices for import fuel fell by 56.6 percent from April 2019 to April 2020 – this was the biggest 12-month drop since the yearly index was first published in December 1984, according to BLS data.
Over the past year, petroleum prices slumped by 58.5 percent, more than offsetting the 5.9-percent increase in natural gas prices.
Excluding fuel, prices for all other U.S. imports inched down by 0.5 percent in April compared to March.
For exports, prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials fell by 10 percent in April compared to March, led by a 28.2-percent drop in fuel prices.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.