Recent Updates

  • US: Wholesale Trade (Oct), Consumer Sentiment (Dec-Prelim), Employment Situation (Nov)
  • US: Consumer Sentiment (Dec-prelim)
  • Lebanon: Public Debt (Oct-Prelim)
  • US: US Sector PMI (Nov)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

FIBER: Industrial Commodity Prices Remain Under Pressure
by Tom Moeller  October 14, 2019

The Industrial Materials Price Index from the Foundation for International Business and Economic Research (FIBER) declined 1.4% during the last four weeks. The price index was down 11.1% y/y and remained at the lowest level since spring 2016.

Prices amongst most product categories prices fell recently. Metals were off 1.8% (-11.3% y/y) over the last month, reflecting a 4.6% m/m decline in steel scrap prices. The cost of aluminum fell 2.9% and copper scrap prices were off 2.3% last month. Working 3.8% higher (11.7% y/y) were lead prices during the last four weeks. Zinc prices also edged up 0.4% last month (-12.3% y/y). Prices in the miscellaneous grouping fell 2.2% (-14.1% y/y) as natural rubber prices declined 8.5% (-5.0% y/y). Framing lumber countered this decline with a 2.2% rise in the last four weeks. Structural panel prices held steady last month but they were off roughly one-quarter y/y. Prices in the crude oil & benzene category fell 1.9% m/m. Crude oil prices declined to $52.91 per barrel by the end of the month and remained below their early-October peak of $75.05. Prices for the petro-chemical benzene rose 3.7% recently (-13.4% y/y). To the upside by 0.5% were prices in the textile group, but they remained down 4.8% y/y. Cotton prices strengthened 5.1%. Nevertheless, they were 19.4% lower y/y. Burlap prices declined 2.9% m/m and 13.2% y/y.

Economic activity will do little to support commodity prices over the short term. Recessions outside of the U.S. are continuing and U.S. factory output growth is projected to slow. Industrial production grew 4.0% last year. The consensus forecast from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) recently was lowered and now calls for a 0.9% rise in production both this year and next. During the last ten years, there has been a 71% correlation between the y/y change in industrial commodity prices and the y/y change in factory sector output.

Commodity price data can be found in Haver's DAILY, WEEKLY, USECON and CMDTY databases. The NABE forecast is in the SURVEYS database.

FIBER Industrial Materials Price Index (%) 1-Mth 3-Mth 6-Mth 12-Mth 2018 2017 2016
All Items -1.4 -3.7 -8.2 -11.1 -12.0 6.7 19.2
 Textiles 0.5 -1.0 -4.6 -4.8 -2.8 3.0 2.8
  Cotton (cents per pound) 5.1 0.6 -19.0 -19.4 -9.2 9.8 10.2
 Metals -1.8 -4.8 -13.0 -11.3 -12.2 18.6 32.9
  Aluminum ($ per metric ton) -2.9 -3.9 -7.1 -16.4 -12.7 26.0 13.0
  Copper Scrap (cents per pound) -2.3 -3.8 -12.4 -9.0 -16.1 29.3 17.3
  Steel Scrap ($ per ton) -4.6 -20.4 -23.7 -26.4 2.3 16.8 74.5
 Crude Oil & Benzene -1.9 -4.9 -4.6 -14.0 -20.0 8.1 20.4
  Crude Oil (WTI, $ per Barrel) -6.8 -10.3 -17.3 -27.9 -24.4 10.9 44.3
 Miscellaneous -2.2 -4.3 -8.2 -14.1 -14.8 -0.5 21.7
  Framing Lumber ($ per 1000 board ft.) 2.2 1.7 2.0 -6.2 -23.1 20.0 12.9
  Natural Rubber (cents per pound) -8.5 -20.8 -17.3 -5.0 -4.1 -29.6 89.4
close
large image