May 24th 2014

After a rough ride in 2013, The Economist’s all-items index of commodities has risen by 5% since the start of 2014. Food prices have been the main cause: our food index has gone up by 11%. Drought in the United States and political tension in Ukraine, one of the largest exporters of wheat and corn (maize), have had a big impact too. What’s more Brazil, the world’s biggest coffee producer, has experienced its worst drought in decades, resulting in a 50% surge in coffee prices. In contrast, our index of industrial commodities is down by 3% this year. Worries about China’s economy, and a possible crackdown on Chinese companies using copper as collateral for loans, have helped copper prices fall by 6%.