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Energy Commodity Prices Start to Pick Up Late in Trump’s First Year: Of Presidents and Prices

For the first time since Donald Trump was inaugurated president, more of the benchmark commodity prices tracked by S&P Global Platts since he took office are now slightly higher than when President Obama left. Until November, most prices had struggled to see their averages match — or surpass — the levels on the last day Obama held the office.

Although fundamentals and a range of other factors influence commodity prices, a group of 11 benchmarks is being monitored by Platts and compared for Trump’s term versus Obama’s.

The price of Dated Brent oil’s running average during the Trump era (January 20-November 30, 2017) is now $53.32/b, compared to $53.31/b on January 19. New York fuel oil’s running average is now at $47.04/b for the January 20-November 30 period, also up a penny from January 19.

Bigger running-average gains since the inauguration have been charted by Chicago gasoline (+9.6%), COMEX gold (+5.4%), jet fuel (+3.7%) and ethanol (+3.5%).

But the running average prices of natural gas, thermal coal, aluminum, iron ore and steel remain softer than Obama’s last day on the job.

What’s more, 10 of the 11 benchmark prices being tracked are weaker than their averages during Obama’s two terms, ranging from -0.3% (thermal coal) to -36.2% (for Dated Brent). Overall, these 10 are averaging price levels nearly 20% below Obama’s two terms.

US-made hot-rolled steel coil is the only commodity in the group averaging a stronger price during Trump’s early term — nearly $625/short ton compared to the $598/st average over eight years of Obama.