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Economy in Brief

Commodity Prices Higher
by Tom Moeller December 6, 2004

Commodity prices, as measured by the JoC-ECRI (Journal of Commerce-Economic Cycle Research Institute) index, have risen moderately during the last several weeks following sharp declines from the high in late August.

Metals prices have been quite strong, led higher by steel scrap (+92.9% y/y), copper scrap (36.1% y/y), lead (50.8% y/y) and aluminum (18.9% y/y).

Petroleum prices also have surged with crude oil (52.1% y/y), but strength in benzene (138.1% y/y) has been most notable.

Earlier strength in lumber prices has been eroded by the cooling of the housing market. The miscellaneous prices category has eased as framing lumber prices have fallen nearly one quarter from the summer highs and structural composite prices have fallen nearly in half.

During the last ten years there has been a 52% correlation between the JoC-ECRI commodity price index and the six month change in factory sector industrial production.

The KR-CRB (Knight Ridder-Commodity Research Bureau) commodity price index has firmed as well though its weighting scheme differs from the JoC-ECRI Index, with roughly half reflecting agricultural prices. Livestock prices (4.5% y/y) have been volatile recently as have foodstuff prices (5.8% y/y).

JoC-ECRI Industrial Price Index 12/03/04 11/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
All Items 113.40 112.68 8.8% 91.97 79.53 80.33
   Textiles 64.40 64.05 -6.3% 65.09 59.73 61.36
   Metals 127.40 126.53 31.6% 84.57 75.14 75.44
   Miscellaneous 100.70 99.18 -20.0% 102.89 85.81 87.29
   Petroleum 251.10 254.87 88.5% 135.26 110.06 108.90
KR-CRB 11/30/04 11/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
All Commodities 303.20 298.60 8.2% 282.59 244.31 212.89
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