Seven of the benchmark commodity prices being tracked by S&P Global Platts since US President Donald J. Trump took office closed out 2017 higher than when President Obama left. Until Q4 2017, most commodity prices had struggled to see their 2017 running averages match — or surpass — their levels on the last day Obama held the office.
Although fundamentals and a range of other factors — such as seasonality, especially this time of year — influence commodity prices, a group of 11 benchmarks is being monitored by Platts and compared for Trump’s term versus Obama’s.
Dated Brent oil’s running average during the Trump era (January 20 through December 31, 2017) was $54.18/b, compared to $53.31/b on January 19. New York fuel oil’s running average was $47.73/b for the January 20-December 31 period, up from the January 19 mark of $47.03.
The biggest running-average gains since the inauguration have been charted by Chicago gasoline (+10.4%), jet fuel (+5.6%), COMEX gold (+5.5%), and ethanol (+2.3%). The US aluminum premium average is up just slightly since Obama’s last day.
But the running average prices of natural gas, thermal coal, iron ore and steel remain softer than Obama’s last day on the job.
What’s more, nine of the 11 benchmark prices being tracked are weaker than their averages during Obama’s two terms, ranging from -3.2% (gold) to -35.2% (for Dated Brent). Overall, these nine are averaging price levels some 19% below Obama’s two-term averages.
US-made hot-rolled steel coil and Central Appalachian thermal coal are the two commodities averaging slightly stronger pricing during Trump’s early term compared with their averages over eight years of Obama. Interestingly, coal and steel are two major industries actively wooed by Trump — both before and after his election.
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