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Economy in Brief

FIBER: Industrial Commodity Prices Edge Higher
by Tom Moeller  February 7, 2022

• Crude oil prices strengthen.

• Metals prices continue to rise.

• Lumber costs decline.

The Industrial Materials Price Index from the Foundation for International Business and Economic Research (FIBER) improved 0.5% during the four weeks ended February 4 and increased 17.0% y/y. The level of the price index remained near its record high.

Crude oil & benzene costs rose 5.2% in the last four weeks and 29.1% y/y. The cost of crude oil rose to $88.45 per barrel last week, up nearly two-thirds y/y. The price of the petro-chemical benzene eased 0.6% during the last four weeks but rose 47.3% y/y. Excluding crude oil, industrial commodity prices slipped 0.3% in the last four weeks but gained 14.7% in the last year.

Prices in the metals group strengthened 3.1% in the last four weeks and 34.7% last year. Aluminum costs improved 8.1% in the recent four weeks and roughly one-half during the last year. The cost of steel scrap rose 5.0% in the last four weeks and 18.5% y/y while zinc prices improved 0.6% in the last four weeks and 41.9% y/y. Copper scrap prices also edged 0.6% higher in four weeks and increased roughly one-quarter y/y.

Prices in the textile group rose 1.7% during the last four weeks and 10.3% y/y. Cotton prices strengthened 10.2% in four weeks and 58.6% y/y. The cost of burlap, used for sacks, bags and gardening, improved 1.5% in the last four weeks and rose by one-quarter y/y.

Working lower was the miscellaneous price index which declined 4.9% during the last four weeks (+3.2% y/y). Framing lumber prices weakened 14.7% (+1.5% y/y). Natural rubber prices rose 3.6% in four weeks but fell 3.0% y/y.

Industrial commodity prices should remain strong. The National Association for Business Economics calls for a 4.0% rise in industrial output 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.

FIBER Industrial Materials Price Index (%) 4-Week 3-Month 6-Month 12-Month 2021 2020 2019
All Items 0.5 3.1 7.4 17.0 18.3 13.5 1.1
  Excluding Crude Oil -0.3 2.8 6.3 14.7 16.3 16.0 -0.6
 Textiles 1.7 1.4 6.6 10.3 9.5 3.9 -1.6
  Cotton (cents per pound) 10.2 7.7 42.2 58.6 49.9 11.6 -6.6
 Metals 3.1 3.6 7.8 34.7 31.8 20.4 -4.3
  Aluminum ($ per metric ton) 8.1 14.3 18.0 55.4 41.3 13.1 -6.5
  Copper Scrap (cents per pound) 0.6 -1.2 1.3 24.3 23.2 26.9 3.5
  Steel Scrap ($ per ton) 5.0 0.3 2.2 18.5 10.3 43.6 -0.8
 Crude Oil & Benzene 5.2 4.8 10.1 29.1 28.7 -9.7 20.2
  Crude Oil (WTI, $ per Barrel) 14.6 7.8 26.0 61.7 57.5 -21.4 35.5
 Miscellaneous -4.9 3.0 6.0 3.2 9.8 29.1 -0.0
  Framing Lumber ($ per 1000 board ft.) -14.7 57.7 67.6 1.5 27.4 113.5 22.6
  Natural Rubber (cents per pound) 3.6 4.8 9.4 -3.0 -11.7 48.6 10.7
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