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June 18, 2015 - Weekly Pricing Pulse
The IHS Materials Price Index (MPI) retreated 2.8% last week, largely because of a sharp 11.7% decline in chemical prices. Tech, rubber, pulp, and nonferrous metals also saw declines, but of a much smaller magnitude. Lumber was a bright spot yet again, increasing 4.3%, as homebuilding activity in the United States continues to strengthen. Ferrous metals also rose 3.0%.
Although exhibiting some volatility week to week, the MPI has in fact been fairly flat over the past two months. After hitting a low in mid-April, commodity prices have stabilized, even rising slightly since early May. Chemical prices remain an area of instability. Higher energy prices, pipeline outages, and spring maintenance schedules have all helped to unsettle prices over the past two months, although they too have remained remarkably flat over the sweep of the past eight weeks.
The Greek crisis and the rout in bond markets have dominated headlines recently. Nevertheless, fundamentals in the Eurozone have improved, which has helped to strengthen the euro and lift exchange-traded commodity prices. If the Greek crisis does indeed remain contained, this recent upward drift in prices will likely continue.