What's going on?
The prices of commodities have hit their highest levels in almost a decade, as everything from copper to lumber becomes worth its weight in gold in the post-pandemic recovery.
What does this mean?
Metals, food, and energy are the bread and butter of any growing global economy, but lately there have been supply problems with all three. China’s been cutting steel production citing environmental concerns, while striking port workers in Chile – where a quarter of the world’s copper is produced – are threatening to delay supply of the red metal. Transportation hiccups have been an issue too, and so has the damage to crop yields from poor weather.
That imbalance between supply and demand has conspired to send a key index of commodity prices up 70% from last March’s lows. That’s its highest level since 2011. In fact, soybean prices are up about 50%, corn over 40%, and copper and oil around 30% this year alone.
Why should I care?
For markets: There’s plenty more where that came from.
The eurozone economy shrank last quarter, so there’s a lot of potential growth up for grabs in the region. And that – as investing heavyweight Pimco has pointed out – could push demand for commodities even higher. It’s a trend investors look like they’re already well aware of: basic materials companies in Europe – think paper manufacturers and mining firms – kicked off Wednesday as the market’s best-performing stocks, which means your investment in Dunder Mifflin could finally be about to pay off in a big way.
Zooming in: Wood comes good.
A resurgent US housing market has boosted demand for lumber in recent weeks, sending wood prices soaring. That’s not ideal news for home buyers or home fixer-upperers who are now forced to cover the higher costs, but it certainly bodes well for Home Depot and Lowe’s first-quarter updates later this month.