US Commodities: Raw Materials Post Record Second-Half Gain – Commodities posted a record second- half gain as adverse weather slashed global crops, debt woes in Europe boosted demand for precious metals as investment havens and China consumed more of everything from cotton to copper. The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials jumped 29 percent in the past six months, the most since the gauge debuted in late 1956. Today, gold and copper closed at record settlement prices. This month, cotton extended a rally to an all-time high, silver rose to a 30-year peak and coffee jumped to the highest since 1997. In 2010, commodity prices beat gains in stocks, bonds and the dollar as China led the recovery from the first global recession since World War II. Crops were ruined by Russia’s worst drought in at least a half century, flooding in Canada and parched fields in Kazakhstan, Europe and South America. Corn and soybeans recorded the biggest second-half increases in five decades.
Cost Of Crude Oil Records 26-Month High To End 2010 – Oil prices registered a 26-month high $92/per barrel Friday, ending 2010 with a 15 percent increase on hopes that the improving economy would fuel higher demands next year and send prices into the $100/barrel mark. Stable growths from the Asian market, particularly in China, as well as the increase in demand from developing countries contributed to the four-month rally that catapulted the price of crude oil more than the $70-$80 mark it recorded for most of the year. According to a survey conducted by Reuters, the global demand for oil increased to 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd), its highest growth since 2004 with another 1.5 million projected for 2011. Although oil prices are expected to hit $100/barrel in 2011, experts are not seeing the price level to hit $150 as it did in 2008, the first time crude oil barged into triple digits.
Heating oil prices hit record levels; residents struggling – The story is old. Except this time prices for heating fuels are at a level not seen by owners and operators of providers in a very long time. Prices, which are averaging around $3 per gallon, have been on a steady incline throughout December. A decline, or even dip, is presently not promised. "There’s people who are getting 5 to 10 gallons to put in their tanks," A household will typically burn 7 to 10 gallons of fuel per day during the winter. "This economy is the absolute worst I’ve ever seen it. This area in particular is struggling," Bridgeton statistics state unemployment at around 23 percent and median household income $17,536, less than the county-wide average of $50,000. She said 20 gallon deliveries are becoming normal and "65 to 70 percent of deliveries are for 50 gallons."
Housing Pain Pits Neighbor Against Neighbor in Florida – Few things agitate Sid Schulman, But it galls him when neighbors stop paying their mortgages and maintenance fees, and leave the cost of community upkeep to others. The scene of these frictions is a 28-acre community in southeastern Florida’s Broward County that spreads out on a peninsula, surrounded by a canal, a lake and an eight-foot stone wall. In a particularly stark example of housing tensions found in many places to varying degrees, the International Village homeowners association responded to the banks’ slowdown in foreclosures with an aggressive step: It began its own foreclosure process. Florida law permits that under certain circumstances. A nonprofit homeowners association can take temporary title of residential units from people who aren’t paying monthly fees they agreed to pay.