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Economy in Brief

Metals Lead Gains in Commodity Prices
by Tom Moeller January 23, 2004

Prices of industrial metals surged as industrial activity strengthened recently. During the past year, the JoC-ECRI index of metals prices jumped by one-third reflecting a 90% rise in steel scrap prices, a 46% rise in copper prices, a 27% rise in tin prices and a 15% gain in aluminum prices.

During the last twenty years there has been a 45% correlation between the y/y change in metals prices as measured by the Journal of Commerce/ECRI index and the change in factory sector industrial production.

The overall JoC-ECRI index rose 24% during the past year. Petroleum products prices rose 11% as West Texas Intermediate crude oil briefly topped $36.00/bbl. Prices for textiles rose 12% during the past year as cotton prices surged 41%.

Elsewhere, gold prices briefly topped $425/oz. (+20% y/y) earlier this month before a recent drop. Silver is up nearly one third the past year as is platinum.

Steer prices, which neared $110/cwt, retraced a portion of their earlier strength.

Commodity Prices 1/22/04 12/31/03 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Gold: Handy & Harman Base Price ($/oz.) $409.25 $416.70 12.2% $363.13 $310.05 $271.06
Stainless Steel Scrap ($/gross ton) $1,495.00 $1,265.00 90.4% $953.75 $717.10 $650.52
Copper: High Grade (COMEX, $/Lb.) $1.12 $1.04 45.7% $0.81 $0.72 $0.73
Steers: Cash Price: Texas-Oklahoma Avg. ($/cwt) $85.97 $75.70 28.0% $83.01 $66.54 $71.86
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