Recent Updates

  • Australia: Labor Force Survey (Aug), Employment by Industry, Average Weekly Hours Worked (Q3), Bank Lending to Business (Q2); New Zealand: GDP (Q2), External Migration, Sydney and Melbourne Labor Force Summary (Aug)
  • Macao: CPI (Aug); Korea: Frist 20 Days of Trade (Sep)
  • US: Fed's Economic Projections (Q3)
  • US: New York Fed Coincident Indexes (Aug)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

FIBER: Industrial Commodity Prices Remain Strong
by Tom Moeller  September 11, 2017

The Industrial Materials Price Index from the Foundation for International Business and Economic Research (FIBER) increased 1.8% during the last four weeks and gained 13.4% during the last twelve months. During all of last year prices rose 19.2%. The index level of 159.2 stood at the highest point since October 2014. Recent price improvement comes at a time when factory output increased 1.3% y/y following a 0.7% rise in 2016.

Prices in the metals sector increased 4.9% during the last four weeks and have risen more than one-quarter y/y. Steel scrap prices improved 6.0% during the last month, rising by one-third y/y. Copper scrap prices increased 7.7% over the last four weeks and rose by nearly one-half during the last year. Aluminum prices gained 5.8% in one month and also by roughly one-third y/y. In the textile group, prices rose 1.2% during the last month, and rose 4.9% y/y. Cotton prices recently strengthened 6.3% and improved 7.5% y/y. Burlap prices moved 1.8% higher over the last four weeks, and worked 40.1% higher y/y. In the miscellaneous group, prices were little changed during the last month but rose 12.1% y/y. Prices for structural panels firmed 15.0% in the last month and rose 17.9% y/y. Framing lumber prices declined 5.6% in recent weeks, but were up 13.8% y/y. Natural rubber costs improved 7.5% m/m and jumped 17.5% y/y, following a sharp decline early this year. Crude oil & benzene costs nudged 0.9% higher (3.7% y/y) last month. WTI crude oil prices declined 1.1% over the last four weeks to $48.70 per barrel, but still were up versus the $43.61 low late in June. Prices for the petro-chemical benzene strengthened 6.9% during the last four weeks and were up 7.7% y/y.

Further price improvement may be coming. The current industrial output projection from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) calls for a 1.5% increase in output during all of 2017 and a 2.4% rise in 2018. During the last ten years, there has been a 52% correlation between the three-month change in prices and the change in U.S. industrial output. In addition, factory sector production in the European Union and Japan is strengthening.

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 2016 2015 2014
All Items 1.8 5.4 1.7 13.4 19.2 -16.3 -10.0
 Textiles 1.2 0.1 -0.2 4.9 2.8 2.2 -4.2
  Cotton (cents per pound) 6.3 -1.1 -2.9 7.5 10.2 2.6 -24.2
 Metals 4.9 13.7 11.8 29.6 32.9 -27.8 -8.7
  Aluminum ($ per metric ton) 5.8 9.1 11.1 31.8 13.0 -19.2 9.4
  Copper Scrap (cents per pound) 7.7 23.1 18.4 48.7 17.3 -27.0 -12.0
  Steel Scrap ($ per ton) 6.0 5.6 12.7 34.6 74.5 -53.8 -18.6
 Crude Oil & Benzene 0.9 1.5 -5.6 3.7 20.4 -19.4 -26.5
  Crude Oil (WTI, $ per Barrel) -1.1 3.5 -6.1 6.0 44.3 -35.8 -43.2
 Miscellaneous -0.1 4.8 -1.6 12.1 21.7 -18.0 -6.7
  Framing Lumber ($ per 1000 board ft.) -5.6 0.2 -1.0 13.8 12.9 -16.4 -1.6
  Natural Rubber (cents per pound) 7.5 7.0 -24.1 17.5 89.4 -22.5 -32.3
close
large image