Interest Rate Roundup

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Import prices tame, current account gap shrinks

The economic data has taken a back stage to all the other subprime chaos lately. But I don't want to ignore it entirely. This morning, we got data on February import/export prices and the Q4 Current Account Deficit. They showed:

* A 0.2% increase in overall import prices, vs. a forecast for a 0.8% increase. The year-over-year change in import prices dipped to 1.3% from 1.4%. If you strip out oil, you get a 0.1% decline. And if you strip out ALL fuels, you get a 0.2% drop. That's a tame reading on core import inflation any way you slice it.

* By category, durable goods prices showed an outsized drop of 0.8%, with prices for building materials and metals falling. Capital goods prices also dropped 0.3% in price, led by a big decline in nonelectric machinery.

* The current account balance came in at -$195.8 billion, an improvement from -$229.4 billion in Q3. Lower crude oil prices helped a lot on that front. That was equal to about 5.8% of the economy, vs. 6.9% in the third quarter. The full-year current account gap hit a record $856.7 billion, up from $791.5 billion in 2005.

Treasury prices are roughly unchanged on the data, while the dollar has seen a modest pop.


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