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Economy in Brief

FIBER: Industrial Commodity Prices Rise
by Tom Moeller  November 8, 2021

• Price gain is pronounced year-to-year.

• Crude oil & cotton prices surge.

• Aluminum & framing lumber costs decline.

The Industrial Materials Price Index from the Foundation for International Business and Economic Research (FIBER) rose 2.9% during the four weeks ended November 5. This improvement includes price declines in the last two weeks.

Prices in the metals group rose 5.9% in the last four weeks reflecting a 12.3% jump (32.6% y/y) in zinc prices. Copper scrap prices rose 7.9% over the last four weeks while steel scrap prices improved 5.6%. Offsetting these gains was a 7.0% decline in aluminum prices.

Crude oil & benzene prices rose 3.0% in the last four weeks. The cost of crude oil strengthened 5.7% over four weeks to $82.07 per barrel, which includes a dip last week. Prices for the petro-chemical benzene increased 4.9% over four weeks and rose 86.3% y/y. Excluding crude oil, industrial commodity prices strengthened 2.7% in the last four weeks.

Prices in the textile group improved 1.6% during the last four weeks. Cotton prices surged 8.6%. The cost of burlap, used for sacks, bags and gardening rose 2.4% in four weeks (29.4% y/y).

The miscellaneous group price index rose 1.3% during the last four weeks as natural rubber prices strengthened 9.1%. Framing lumber prices, however, declined 2.3%. Plywood prices continued to trend sideways.

Industrial commodity prices should continue trending higher. The National Association for Business Economics calls for a 5.7% rise in industrial output this year, followed by a 4.2% gain in 2022.

The Foundation for International Business and Economic Research (FIBER) develops economic measurement techniques as applied to business cycles and inflation in the U.S. and other market economies. The commodity price data can be found in Haver's DAILY, WEEKLY, USECON and CMDTY databases.

Flexible Average Inflation Targeting and Prospects for U.S. Monetary Policy from Fed Vice Chair Richard H. Clarida can be found here.

FIBER Industrial Materials Price Index (%) 4-Week 3-Month 6-Month 12-Month 2020 2019 2018
All Items 2.9 4.2 -0.1 28.9 13.5 1.1 -12.0
  Excluding Crude Oil 2.7 3.5 -1.4 24.8 16.0 -0.6 -11.1
 Textiles 1.6 5.1 6.0 12.4 3.9 -1.6 -2.8
  Cotton (cents per pound) 8.6 32.1 35.7 75.3 11.6 -6.6 -9.2
 Metals 5.9 4.0 9.0 52.0 20.4 -4.3 -12.2
  Aluminum ($ per metric ton) -7.0 3.2 9.7 44.3 13.1 -6.5 -12.7
  Copper Scrap (cents per pound) 7.9 2.6 -1.3 45.9 26.9 3.5 -16.1
  Steel Scrap ($ per ton) 5.6 1.9 4.9 64.2 43.6 -0.8 2.3
 Crude Oil & Benzene 3.0 5.1 3.2 51.1 -9.7 20.2 -20.0
  Crude Oil (WTI, $ per Barrel) 5.7 16.9 26.3 117.8 -21.4 35.5 -24.4
 Miscellaneous 1.3 2.9 -13.3 15.3 29.1 -0.0 -14.8
  Framing Lumber ($ per 1000 board ft.) -2.3 6.3 -60.1 18.1 113.5 22.6 -23.1
  Natural Rubber (cents per pound) 9.1 4.4 -15.7 -19.9 48.6 10.7 -4.1
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