(Bloomberg) -- When headline crude futures topped $70 a barrel on Tuesday, it was just the latest landmark in a banner year for raw materials.From copper to iron ore and oil, prices have rallied broadly in 2021, as the global economy emerges from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic and fires up demand. The Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index, which tracks a broad basket of raw materials, is up 21% since January, putting it on track for the best year since 2016.Copper surged to an all-time high this month, bursting through $10,000 a ton in the process. Iron ore also hit a record recently with the steelmaking raw material surging as China churns out more of the alloy that ever. Now oil’s joining in, with Brent crude topping $70 a barrel, and retail gasoline prices above $3 a gallon in the U.S.Together, they’re latest signs of a global economy that is starting to see inflationary forces at work. The prices of the raw materials used to make everything from houses to coffee are skyrocketing, underscoring the giant reflation trade that has gripped global markets this year.“It’s driven by inflation concerns and demand,” said Giovanni Staunovo commodity analyst at UBS Group AG. “Commodities are reopening-and-reflation trades.”Beyond of raw materials, there are wider booms underway across commodity markets. Argentina’s government is limiting exports of beef, a staple in the country, to try to contain runaway inflation that’s approaching 50% annually. Wheat, corn, and sugar all hit multiyear highs recently, while palm oil reached a record and soybean oil is trading near an all-time high.Gold rose to the highest in more than three months, breaking out of a downtrend its held since August, on growing inflation concerns and assurances on monetary policy.Economic RecoveryCopper has been one of the main beneficiaries of a broad economic recovery and vast stimulus programs around the world, but investors are also getting excited about the longer-term outlook.The metal is crucial for nearly all the technologies and infrastructure needed to decarbonize the global economy with supply struggling to keep pace with consumption. A lack of mine investment and paucity of new projects has prompted forecasts of shortages.There’s optimism among oil bulls that the crude market will keep running hot into the summer too. Continued restrictions on flying are likely to force people into their cars when they go on vacation, potentially proving to be a boon in road fuels demand. Meanwhile airlines are growing optimistic that some regions will be able to open their borders as vaccinations progress.As a result big banks have rolled out a wealth of bullish takes on the sector. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. says a goldilocks scenario is forming for the commodities sector, with inflation starting to rise but monetary policy not yet tightening. Top trader Trafigura Group has talked up the prospects for copper to hit $15,000 a ton in the coming decade.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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(Bloomberg) -- The prices of raw materials used to make almost everything are skyrocketing, and the upward trajectory looks set to continue as the world economy roars back to life.From steel and copper to corn and lumber, commodities started 2021 with a bang, surging to levels not seen for years. The rally threatens to raise the cost of goods from the lunchtime sandwich to gleaming skyscrapers. It’s also lit the fuse on the massive reflation trade that’s gripped markets this year and pushed up inflation expectations. With the U.S. economy pumped up on fiscal stimulus, and Europe’s economy starting to reopen as its vaccination rollout gets into gear, there’s little reason to expect a change in direction.JPMorgan Chase & Co. said this week it sees a continued rally in commodities and that the “reflation and reopening trade will continue.” On top of that, the Federal Reserve and other central banks seem calm about inflation, meaning economies could be left to run hot, which will rev up demand even more.“The most important drivers supporting commodity prices are the global economic recovery and acceleration in the reopening phase,” said Giovanni Staunovo, commodity analyst at UBS Group AG. The bank expects commodities as a whole to rise about 10% in the next year.China, a crucial source of supply and demand for raw materials, is playing a big role, particularly as the government tries to reduce production of key metals like steel and aluminum. It’s also buying up massive amounts of grains. Food prices are also being affected as poor weather in key growing nations like Brazil and France hits harvests.As just about every basic material gets rapidly more expensive, here’s some ways the rally is rippling across the globe to create winners and losers.Going GreenCopper has enjoyed an unstoppable rally for more than a year thanks to pledges by governments to boost renewable energy and electric vehicle use. That’ll make all the various forms of green technology that rely on it a bit more expensive.Bigger power grids is one such case. About 1.9 million tons of copper was used to build electricity networks in 2020, according to BloombergNEF, and the price of the red metal is up more than 90% in the past year. Usage will almost double by 2050, BNEF forecasts, while demand from other low carbon technologies like electric vehicles and solar panels will also balloon.Buyers and SellersFor countries, the impact of the commodity rally depends on whether they’re an exporter or importer. For those relying heavily on exporting raw materials, the huge upswings can only be good news for public finances, especially when they’ve just been stricken by a once-in-a-century pandemic. The likes of Australia (iron ore), Chile (copper) and Indonesia (palm oil) all make huge sums from commodities.Meanwhile, countries looking to rebuild infrastructure may find their budgets buy less than they used to. President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan is one such case. Electricity grids, railways and refurbishing buildings are among the items on the shopping list that will use large amounts of metal.Consultancy CRU Group estimates the program will add 5 million tons of steel to the 80 million the U.S. uses each year, with similar boosts to aluminum and copper demand.MeatIt’s been a tough year to be in the meat business, from devastating Covid outbreaks to the deadly pig disease that hit Germany and is roaring back in China.And as crop prices surge, farmers rearing poultry, pigs and cattle are among the first to get squeezed by the eye-watering run-up in grains. Costs for corn fed to livestock have doubled in the past year, and soybean meal is more than 40% higher. While there’s a delay before that hits the burger chain or steakhouse, there are already signs of prices creeping higher.Old Steel MillsSteel producers in Europe and America have suffered for years from low prices caused by global overcapacity. Plants struggled to make money and job security became a growing worry. Over 85,000 steel jobs were lost in the European Union between 2008 and 2019, according to industry association Eurofer.That’s all changed dramatically thanks to booming steel prices. Futures in China, by far the biggest producer, have smashed records — even outpacing gains in key ingredient iron ore — as the government took measures to curb output. That’s supercharged rallies of benchmark prices in Europe and America, where mills were already running at maximum capacity as they try to meet unexpectedly high demand.Breakfast TablesWhether you prefer latte or espresso, sweetened or plain, the key ingredients of a cup of coffee have surged. Arabica coffee futures have risen about 33% in the past year, while raw sugar has also advanced. Fancy a slice of toast? Benchmark wheat prices have hit the highest since 2013.Of course, rising commodities don’t immediately show up on grocery shelves and cafe menus. They make up just a part of the costs for retailers, which often absorb the initial increase to keep customers coming back. But there’s a limit to that margin hit, and high prices could ultimately feed through to consumers.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.