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Economy in Brief

Commodity Prices Find Some Support
by Tom Moeller  July 5, 2011

Commodity prices recently have given mixed signals about inflationary pressures and the economy. Gold prices have backed off their recent high and as of yesterday traded at $1,483 per ounce versus the mid-June level of $1,553. Showing persistent weakness have been crude oil prices at $94.94 per barrel, versus the late-April high of $113.93. The latest was, however, up from the week-earlier low of $91.02. Elsewhere, weak economic news from the U.S. including housing activity, real consumer spending and industrial output had been part of the downward pressure on prices, but prices have stabilized. Earlier, economic forecasts were revised lower but expectations remain for a H2 improvement.

Industrial commodity prices seem to be finding a floor after earlier decline. The FIBER price index is down roughly 8% from its April high but prices recently have stabilized, notably for zinc, aluminum and copper scrap. Even in the housing sector, lumber costs have found some support after the 15% decline from the January high. Natural rubber prices continue lower after a 30% drop from the February peak.

Agricultural commodity prices have been persistently weak. Lower wheat prices have led the pace with a one-quarter decline since early-April. In addition corn prices are down 20% just in the last month. Meat prices have shown lesser declines from the Spring peaks.

Commodity price data can be found in Haver's DAILY, WEEKLY and CMDTY databases.

Commodity Prices Latest Latest Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Gold($ per troy ounce.) 1,483 23.4% 1,224.3 972.3 872.0
Crude Oil($ per barrel) 94.94 31.6 79.42 61.83 99.83
Commodity Research Bureau Spot Index -
All Commodities (1967=100)
548.0 30.4 451 361 422
  Foodstuffs 479.8 35.8 379 310 373
  Livestock & Products 642.5 37.4 470 355 457
FIBER Industrial Materials Price Indexes (1990=100) 174.5 15.8 158 122 148
Textiles 86.41 10.1 81 73 74
  Cotton (cents per pound) 131.4 72.1 88.0 52.6 58.1
Metals 290.4 38.0 240 169 231
  Aluminum ($ per metric ton) 2,508 30.1 2,173 1,665 2,572
  Copper Scrap (cents per pound) 421.9 46.4 327 197 281
  Steel Scrap ($ per ton) 416.7 28.3 327 204 350
Miscellaneous 188.0 4.6 179 128 159
  Natural Rubber(cents per pound) 241.2 27.5 183 84 124
  Framing Lumber($ per 1000 board) 262 6.1 293 221 253
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