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Economy in Brief

FIBER: Industrial Commodity Prices Lose Upward Momentum
by Tom Moeller  May 9, 2012

During the last few months industrial commodity prices have fluctuated in a relatively narrow range. Nevertheless, at 170.3 the latest price index from the Foundation for International Business and Economic Research (FIBER) was 7.6% higher than its December low. Amongst commodity groupings, price performance has been decidedly mixed. During the last ten years there has been a 44% correlation between the three-month change in prices and the change in factory sector industrial production.

Pricing strength has been notable in the miscellaneous group where lumber and plywood prices surged as mild temperatures boosted home building activity. Natural rubber prices have similarly bounced. Offsetting this improvement, prices in the crude oil & benzene group recently fell led by WTI crude after showing earlier strength.

In the textile group cotton prices have gone nowhere but down. The price of burlap, used as a reinforcing material, has been volatile following a near-halving early last year. Metals prices also have been declining of late led by lower aluminum costs. Steel scrap and other metals prices, however, have moved sideways.

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

Commodity Prices and PCE Inflation from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

FIBER Industrial Materials Price Index (1990=100) 05/09/12 Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
All Items 170.3 -3.7 172.9 157.7 121.4
 Textiles 79.0 -45.6 86.1 81.2 73.3
  Cotton (cents per pound) 86.7 -47.2 132.6 87.8 52.2
 Metals 252.0 -12.3 278.5 239.9 167.9
  Aluminum ($ per metric ton) 2,047.5 -21.8 2,400 2,172 1,662
  Copper Scrap (cents per pound) 376.3 -6.9 400.1 326.5 195.2
  Steel Scrap ($ per ton) 402.7 -1.8 412.4 325.7 203.4
 Crude Oil & Benzene 204.5 -2.5 199.3 182.0 150.9
  Crude Oil (WTI, $ per Barrel) 96.9 -5.5 95.1 79.5 61.4
 Miscellaneous 211.5 11.6 190.5 178.8 127.6
  Framing Lumber ($ per 1000 board ft.) 352 34.4 273 282 221
  Natural Rubber (cents per pound) 240.4 -9.8 261.8 181.8 83.0
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