Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| May 13 2024

FIBER: Industrial Commodity Prices Decline in Latest Four Weeks

  • Lumber costs continue to weaken.
  • Crude oil prices fall and reverse earlier gains.
  • Cotton prices exhibit notable decline.
  • Most metals prices strengthen.

The Industrial Materials Price Index from the Foundation for International Business and Economic Research (FIBER) fell 0.9% (+3.3% y/y) during the four weeks ended May 10, 2024, after rising during April. The index remained 20.1% below the cycle peak in the second week of March 2022. During most of that period of time, U.S. factory output has been little changed.

Prices in the miscellaneous group fell 3.5% during the last four weeks and weakened 0.5% y/y. Plywood prices fell 7.8% in four weeks, rising 2.3% y/y. The cost of natural rubber fell 10.3% in four weeks but rose by roughly one-quarter y/y.

Prices in the crude oil & benzene group were off 2.7% (+7.7% y/y) in the last four weeks. The cost of West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 8.5% in four weeks to $78.64 per barrel, up 9.3% y/y. Prices hit a low of $70.42 in the third week of December. The cost of the petro-chemical benzene, used for making plastics & synthetic fibers, increased 3.0% (+23.3% y/y) in four weeks. Excluding crude oil, the industrial commodity price index eased 0.5% (+2.9% y/y) in the latest four-week period.

Textile group prices declined 1.7% (-1.0% y/y) in the latest four weeks but had been rising since their low in the second week of November. Cotton prices weakened 10.6% (-10.5% y/y) in the last four weeks, falling to the lowest level since December 2020. The cost of burlap posted a 0.7% (7.8% y/y) four-week increase.

Offsetting these declines, metals group prices increased 4.0% (9.7% y/y) over the most recent four weeks. Zinc prices rose 8.0% (10.1% y/y) while tin prices improved 5.2% in four weeks, strengthening 22.2% y/y. Copper scrap prices increased 5.1% (15.1% y/y) in the last four weeks and aluminum prices improved 3.9%, rising 9.7% y/y. Lead prices increased 2.6% (2.4% y/y) in four weeks but the cost of steel scrap eased 0.5% (+1.5% y/y).

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.

  • Prior to joining Haver Analytics in 2000, Mr. Moeller worked as the Economist at Chancellor Capital Management from 1985 to 1999. There, he developed comprehensive economic forecasts and interpreted economic data for equity and fixed income portfolio managers. Also at Chancellor, Mr. Moeller worked as an equity analyst and was responsible for researching and rating companies in the economically sensitive automobile and housing industries for investment in Chancellor’s equity portfolio.   Prior to joining Chancellor, Mr. Moeller was an Economist at Citibank from 1979 to 1984.   He also analyzed pricing behavior in the metals industry for the Council on Wage and Price Stability in Washington, D.C.   In 1999, Mr. Moeller received the award for most accurate forecast from the Forecasters' Club of New York. From 1990 to 1992 he was President of the New York Association for Business Economists.   Mr. Moeller earned an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University, where he graduated in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from George Washington University.

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