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Prices of 3 Metals Reach Record Highs

July 8, 2008

By Dafney Tales, Philadelphia Daily News

Jul. 8–The downturn in the economy reflects a steady rise in prices for commodities including oil, rubber and foodstuffs that has consumers wringing their hands. Meanwhile a recent spike in the prices of nonferrous metals has some economists worried.

As of last week, a significant price increase has hit three of the world’s largest-produced metals: aluminum, copper and steel.

Aluminum costs $1.41 per pound, up 18 cents since 2007, according to the London Metal Exchange.

Copper costs $3.98 per pound, a 41-cent jump from 2007.

Steel, one of the most common materials in the world, is not measured by the pound in the United States, but by the short ton, said John Mothersole, senior economist for Global Insight, an international financial and economic forecaster. A benchmark product of the metal, a hot roll of carbon sheet, costs $1,052 a short ton.

Metal demand has caused the price spike in recent years, he said. And growth in India, Brazil, Russia and especially China, has put pressure on the global market, he said. “Since 2003, 75 percent of growth in primary metal consumption has been accounted for by China,” he said. Here are comparisons between last year’s prices and those from last Friday:

–Aluminum

2007: $1.23 per pound

Now: $1.41 per pound

–Copper

2007: $3.57 per pound

Now: $3.98 per pound

–Steel

2007: $532 a short ton

Now: $1,052 a short ton

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