The slide in commodity prices resumes

February 05, 2015 - Weekly Pricing Pulse

The IHS Markit Materials Price Index (MPI) softened 2.2% last week, led by decreases in chemicals, nonferrous metals and freight rates. Daily charter rates for dry bulk carriers also hit a multi-decade low.

Copper prices fell 3.4% last week on rising inventories and more bearish data out of China. China's National Bureau of Statistics reported that industrial profits plummeted in December, led by weakening growth at state-owned enterprises and within the refining sector. January's China PMI report, released over the weekend, also showed manufacturing activity contracting for the first time since 2012.

Markets were visibly on edge last week because of political tensions in Europe and announced cuts in planned capital expenditures by the energy industry. Over the past decade, markets became accustomed to a seasonal bounce in the lead-up to Chinese New Year. This year, the absence of this pattern is creating some market anxiety, placing the focus on March for a true read on the health of the Chinese economy.

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