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Economy in Brief

FIBER: Industrial Commodity Prices Remain Depressed
by Tom Moeller December 12, 2011

Industrial commodity prices recently have hovered near the recent lows. At 161.2, the latest price index from the Foundation for International Business and Economic Research (FIBER) was down 4.8% y/y and the six-month growth rate, as calculated by FIBER, was -15%. There's been some improvement in certain metals, crude oil and plywood prices, but that's been countered by weakness elsewhere. During the last ten years there has been a 55% correlation between the three-month change in prices and the change in factory sector production.

Prices in the crude oil & benzene group have shown some improvement led by higher prices for WTI crude oil. Crude oil recently has ranged near $100 per barrel versus the earlier lows near $80. Also, prices in the miscellaneous group have shown gains led by framing lumber & plywood.

Metals prices also have risen led by steel scrap. However, copper scrap and aluminum prices remain down sharply from earlier peaks. In the textile group, the price of cotton is now half its spring peak.

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

FIBER Industrial Materials Price Index (1990=100) 12/09/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
All Items 161.2 -4.8 158 121 149
 Textiles 80.24 -8.5 81 73 74
  Cotton (cents per pound) 89.3 -32.2 87.8 52.5 58.0
 Metals 247.7 -8.6 240 168 233
  Aluminum ($ per metric ton) 2,059.0 -12.2 2,172 1,662 2,571
  Copper Scrap (cents per pound) 353.8 -13.7 327 197 280
  Steel Scrap ($ per ton) 401.67 18.1 326 204 350
 Crude Oil & Benzene 193.6 3.2 182 151 200
  Crude Oil (WTI, $ per Barrel) 98.34 11.3 79.43 61.71 99.73
 Miscellaneous 182.2 -1.5 179 128 159
  Natural Rubber (cents per pound) 213.4 -10.9 182 84 124
  Framing Lumber ($ per 1000 board ft.) 266 -2.6 282 221 253

FIBER is the Foundation for International Business & Economic Research

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