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An Overview of Major Sources of Data and Analyses Relating to Physical Fundamentals in International Commodity Markets

Working paper by Fajarnes, Pilar / UNCTAD, 2011

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This paper, written by Pilar Fajarnes, of UNCTAD's Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, assesses the current situation with regard to the availability of information on physical commodity markets, pointing to some of the existing information gaps and areas for improvement. It also provides a comprehensive overview of the various information sources covering agricultural commodity markets (food, tropical beverages, agricultural raw materials), energy commodities, and metals and minerals markets. A wealth of website links contained in the paper facilitates the access to relevant information.

No. 202

June 2011







Pilar Fajarnes

No. 202
June 2011



JEL classification: O13, G14, D83

The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author and are not to be taken as the official views of
the UNCTAD Secretariat or its Member States. The designations and terminology employed are also those
of the author.

UNCTAD Discussion Papers are read anonymously by at least one referee, whose comments are taken into
account before publication.

Comments on this paper are invited and may be addressed to the authors, c/o the Publications Assistant,
Macroeconomic and Development Policies Branch (MDPB), Division on Globalization and Development
Strategies (DGDS), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland (Telefax no: +41 (0)22 917 0274 / Telephone no: +41 (0)22 917 5896).
Copies of Discussion Papers may also be obtained from this address.

UNCTAD Discussion Papers are available on the UNCTAD website at http://www.unctad.org.




Abstract ........................................................................................................................................................ 1

I. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................. 1

OF PHYSICAL COMMODITY MARKETS: GENERAL ASSESSMENT .................................... 3

III. INFORMATION ON AGRICULTURAL COMMODITY MARKETS .......................................... 4

A. Food commodities .......................................................................................................................... 4
B. Tropical beverages.......................................................................................................................... 7
C. Agricultural raw materials .............................................................................................................. 8

IV. INFORMATION ON ENERGY COMMODITY MARKETS .......................................................... 9

V. INFORMATION ON METALS AND MINERALS MARKETS.................................................... 10

A. Precious metals............................................................................................................................. 10
B. Other metals and minerals ............................................................................................................ 11

VI. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON COMMODITY MARKETS ............................................... 14

A. Information from international organizations and other sources .................................................. 14
B. Information on commodities from investment banks and financial institutions........................... 15
C. Information on commodities from specialized websites and media ............................................. 16
D. Commodity exchanges ................................................................................................................. 17
E. Global conferences on commodities............................................................................................. 18

VII. CONCLUSIONS.................................................................................................................................. 18

REFERENCES.................................................................................................................................................. 21



Pilar Fajarnes
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)


The debate on whether price movements in commodity markets are determined by changes in
physical supply and demand fundamentals or by the speculative effects of financial investors
seems to find some element of agreement on one particular point: the need for increased
transparency and improved information on futures markets and physical commodity markets. This
discussion paper provides an assessment of the current situation with regard to availability of
information on physical commodity markets, pointing to some of the existing information gaps and
areas for improvement. The paper presents a comprehensive account of the different information
sources for physical commodity markets (including their websites), and could therefore be
considered a practical information tool in itself, of use to different stakeholders interested in
knowing about developments in these markets.


Commodity markets have experienced turbulent times during the first decade of this millennium,
reflected in the increasing volatility of commodity prices. Having registered a long decline until the
end of the 1990s, commodity prices started to rise in 2002-2003. The price increases accelerated in
2004-2005, and they peaked in 2008. Commodity prices then plunged during the second half of 2008
with the eruption of the global financial crisis, only to recover by mid-2009 and increase rapidly again
in 2010 and early 2011. In May 2011 commodity prices were suffering sharp downward corrections.

There has been an intense debate on the causes of the extreme movements in commodity prices during
these years. The discussions have focused on whether these were due to changes in the fundamentals
of demand and supply in commodity markets, or to the increasing presence in those markets of
financial investors who regard commodities as an additional asset class. Due to data constraints, it is
difficult to provide empirical proof of the influence of excessive speculation on commodity prices.
However, there seems to be some agreement that financial investors can exert an influence on
commodity price volatility, at least in the short term.1

Thus, while commodity market fundamentals would be the dominant factor influencing medium- to
long-term trends in commodity prices, financial investors have the potential to exacerbate the

1 In recent years, there has been a proliferation of studies and analyses focusing on one side or the other of this
debate. For example, some economists argue that the increasing financialization of commodity markets has had a
significant impact on prices (see, UNCTAD 2009a; Gilbert, 2010; and Tang and Xiong, 2010). Others point to
fundamentals of supply and demand as the determinant of recent commodity price volatility (see, for instance,
Sanders and Irwin, 2010). For a review listing a number of different studies on the evidence of the impact of
commodity speculation, see Henn, 2011. See also IATP (2011) for a review of writings on the impact of
speculation with a focus on agricultural commodities.


movements of those prices in the short term. Indeed, they may even be responsible for creating
bubbles over short periods of time. Whatever the case may be, as expectations play a strong role in
commodity price formation, the need for improved transparency and better information – not only
about developments in futures markets, including over-the-counter commodity derivatives, but also in
physical markets – has become widely accepted.2 This would reduce uncertainty about the evolution of
the markets and help improve their functioning.

The importance of market transparency in commodity markets has been widely recognized at several
international forums. The Task Force on Commodity Futures Markets of the International
Organization of Securities Commissions concludes in its report to the G-20 that “Efforts are required
by relevant authorities with regard to the enhancement of data on underlying cash market (physical)
commodity market transactions … unless such transparency is achieved, it will remain difficult for
national authorities to understand the relationships between transactions in the financial markets and
transactions in the cash markets” (IOSCO, 2010a).3 The International Energy Agency has highlighted
that “excessive volatility can be controlled by means of better operating markets and improved
visibility of current conditions and expectations for the market in the future … the issue of data
transparency is paramount for a better understanding of oil market dynamics. Improved data on
demand, supply and stocks are key to a better grasp on market fundamentals” (IEA, 2010). The need
for improving information on physical markets was also widely discussed at UNCTAD’s recent Multi-
year Expert Meeting on Commodities and Development.4 Improved transparency in physical
commodity markets to address commodity price volatility is considered one of the priorities during
France’s presidency of the G-20 in 2011.5

In this context, the objective of this paper is to provide an inventory of major commodity data and
information sources, as well as an evaluation of the current availability of information on the evolution
of physical supply and demand fundamentals in international commodity markets. By presenting an
overview of the major sources of data and analyses about these markets, this paper is also intended as
a practical tool or guide for market participants and other stakeholders interested in knowing about
developments in commodity markets.6

2 For an in depth analysis of the role of information in commodity price formation in financialized commodity
markets, see UNCTAD, 2011a.
3 For a more detailed discussion on transparency in physical commodity markets, see also IOSCO, 2009. IOSCO
(2010b) further develops on the importance of transparency in physical cash commodity markets.
4 See the report of the meeting at UNCTAD, 2011b.
5 See “The priorities of the French Presidency”, available at: http://www.g20-g8.com/g8-g20/g20/english/priorities-
for-france/the-priorities-of-the-french-presidency/sheets/commodity-price-volatility.353.html. In addition, the
Agriculture Secretary of the United States wrote in the Financial Times: “We need a concerted effort by the private
sector, governments and multilateral institutions to increase transparency and market information… Group of 20
leading nations, along with other countries, should support improved data collection and the dissemination of
information about physical cash markets and support improved weather monitoring” (Financial Times, How to
avoid a global food price crisis, 23 March). Similarly, a recent communication of the European Commission on
Commodities highlights the need to promote further improvements in the transparency and accessibility of
information on the physical commodity markets (EC, 2011). Moreover, an interagency report on policy
responses to price volatility in food and agricultural markets, prepared for the French presidency of the G-20,
also introduces concrete proposals for increasing transparency in physical markets, including the Agricultural
Market Information System (FAO et al., 2011).
6 Whenever possible, and as deemed appropriate, this paper presents the URL links for the different sources of
commodity information products with the purpose of facilitating readers’ access to the electronic versions.
However, as is well known, given the fast speed of changes on the Internet, some links may become rapidly
inactive because the information has moved. In order to tackle this issue, the paper generally provides the name
of the institution and the corresponding information product so that the new link to the product can be easily
found through a simple search on the web.


While this review can be considered as a sufficiently comprehensive account of the major sources of
information on physical commodity market developments, it is by no means exhaustive, given the vast
amount of information available electronically through Internet. Given the fast changing information
on the Internet, the contribution of this paper should be seen as an ongoing exercise or work in
progress. Furthermore, the paper looks mainly at information sources in English, although from a
review of this kind of information in other major languages, such as French and Spanish, it appears
that most of the major information sources on physical commodity markets at the global level are in

This discussion paper starts with a brief assessment on the general situation with regard to information
on physical commodity markets. The three subsequent sections present the different sources of data
and analyses on commodity markets by major commodity groups: food and other agricultural
commodities, energy commodities, and minerals and metals. This is followed by an overview of
additional sources of information for all commodity groups. These include commodity information
and analyses provided by international organizations, by financial institutions which are playing a
more influential role in this area, and by specialized commodity websites and media. Commodity
exchanges and major international commodity conferences are also considered as possible channels
for market participants to capture the pulse of the markets. The paper concludes by pointing to some of
the information gaps that would need to be addressed and suggesting areas of improvement for
achieving better transparency in commodity markets.


Transparency of information about physical supply and demand fundamentals in international
commodity markets is essential for market participants to form accurate expectations on prices and
thus for the efficient functioning of the markets. There are different types of information that can be
obtained about these markets: (i) raw data from databases that include various data related to
production, consumption, trade, stocks and prices; (ii) processed data that result from analyses of
market trends and monitoring of the current situation; and (iii) forecasts or projections about the future
evolution of market fundamentals which may be short-term outlooks or medium and long-term
outlooks. The frequency of commodity market information varies widely, depending on the data
source, and can range from daily to annual data. However, most publicly available official sources are
based on monthly data.

The short-term evolution of fundamentals in agricultural commodity markets is strongly determined
by the supply side. Demand normally evolves gradually, thus shocks in demand are less likely to
happen than shocks in supply. Weather conditions whose evolution is highly uncertain may have a
strong influence in agricultural production. As crops are harvested in specific times of the year, having
more day to day information on actual supply and demand is not likely to be a relevant issue.
However, expectations on supply also play a major role in these markets, thus it may be important to
improve the data on crop plantings and harvests forecasts. In the case of energy commodities, where
demand factors also play a major role in their short-term evolution, as demand for energy is linked to
industrial cycles, more immediate information about events related to the evolution of the world
economy and their impact on energy demand may be of higher relevance. In this context, geopolitical
factors also play an important role, which may also call for having more frequent information on

There is ample information on physical commodity markets but it is not easy to obtain it in a
systematic way; there are a number of sources that provide the same information and the information
may appear in many different formats. Thus it takes time and expertise to find out which are the most
useful, relevant and reliable sources for the information products required for each commodity. Even
for a single source of information the multiplicity of information products is such that it is rather
cumbersome to access the targeted information.


The information can be produced by official sources, such as international organizations and study
groups or organizations specialized on specific commodities or groups of commodities, as well as
national sources from governments of countries which are key players in the commodity markets, such
as the United States or Australia, and by private sources. In many cases, even for official sources, the
information is not publicly available; it can be accessed only by customers or private users against


A. Food commodities

The main international source of reference for data and market analysis and monitoring on physical
fundamentals for food, and other agricultural commodities, is the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations – FAO (http://www.fao.org/). FAO publishes different reports in the context of
its Global Information and Early Warning System – GIEWS (http://www.fao.org/giews/english/index.htm).
These reports include a monthly Global Food Price Monitor, a quarterly Crop Prospects and Food
Situation, which provides a detailed assessment of cereal production as well as supply and demand
conditions by country/region, and a biannual Food Outlook, which offers more in-depth analyses of
world markets for cereals, as well as other major food commodities. FAO also publishes Country
Briefs and the Cereal Supply/Demand Balances for sub-Saharan Africa.

Beginning March 2011, FAO launched an online monthly brief on the global cereal situation and
outlook with the purpose of providing an up-to-date perspective of the world cereal market, the FAO
Cereal Supply and Demand Brief. Apart from the reports indicated above, the latest market
assessments and short-term forecasts for specific commodities are presented in the Monthly News
Reports on Grains, Rice Market Monitor (quarterly), and for oil crops, the Monthly Price and Policy
Update which complements the bi-annual market reports. Most of these products can be easily
accessed from the World Food Situation portal (http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/wfs-home/en/).

FAO maintains a number of databases on agricultural commodity markets, including FAOSTAT
database (http://faostat.fao.org/default.aspx), the National Food Prices and Data Analysis Tool
(http://www.fao.org/giews/pricetool2/) and the International Commodity Prices Database
(http://www.fao.org/es/esc/prices/PricesServlet.jsp?lang=en). Information by commodity, including
other non-food agricultural commodities, can be accessed in the Commodity Markets Monitoring and
Outlook (http://www.fao.org/economic/est/commodity-markets-monitoring-and-outlook/en/). The
annual joint report with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD-FAO
Agricultural Outlook provides medium-term projections; the latest outlook published in June 2011
covers the period 2011–2020. It can be accessed at http://www.agri-outlook.org/, including the link to
the database.

In the context of food security, the Committee for World Food Security (CFS), which is the United
Nations’ forum for reviewing and following up on policies concerning world food security and
examining issues which affect the world food situation, has recently launched a Food Price Volatility
Portal (http://www.fao.org/cfs/accueil-de-la-csa/cfs-portal/fr/). This is part of the reform process of
the Committee which followed the food crisis of 2008, with the purpose of making the Committee the
foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform dealing with food security and
nutrition as well as a central component in the evolving Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food
Security and Nutrition. The portal provides access, in addition to most of the FAO information
mentioned above, to new information products such as the Market Monitor of the World Food
Programme or the Grain Market Indices of the International Grains Council. This portal represents a
notable advance in the necessary coordination to facilitate access to different information sources. The
IFPRI Food Security Portal of the International Food Policy Research Institute
(http://www.foodsecurityportal.org/), with a stronger focus on policy issues, is also a useful tool. At
the national level, for the most vulnerable countries, the World Food Programme maintains the Food


Security Monitoring System (http://www.wfp.org/food-security/reports/FSMS) and offers market
assessments and price bulletins by country.

Additionally, also at the international level, but with a focus on grains, the International Grains
Council – IGC (http://www.igc.int/en/Default.aspx) provides a large amount of information on these
markets although an important proportion of it is not publicly available. Market information products
of IGC include the monthly Grain Market Report, GMR which reviews the current situation and
outlook for wheat (including durum), coarse grains (including maize (corn), barley, sorghum, oats and
rye), oilseeds and rice. Separate chapters cover production, trade, consumption, stocks, prices, ocean
freight rates and national policy developments. The analysis is supported by some 40 statistical tables.
Only the summary is publicly available. In addition to the monthly Grain Market Report, GMRPlus
has two elements: First, Grain Market Indicators is issued each Wednesday, providing the latest
export prices and carrying short market commentaries on wheat, maize (corn), other grains (barley,
sorghum, oats, rye), rice, soybeans and ocean freight rates; second, GMR Statistics provides weekly
updates of some key GMR statistical tables, as well as a diary of grain market news and events. The
IGC annual World Grain Statistics, published in online format only, contains detailed Excel tables on
production, trade, consumption, stocks and prices for wheat (including data for durum and wheat
flour), coarse grains, rice and oilseeds. Additional tables deal with ocean freight rates. Most tables
cover a 10-year period.

At the national government level, the United States Department of Agriculture – USDA
(http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome) is also one of the most comprehensive sources of
information on global agricultural markets. The information provided by this agency is especially
relevant because the United States is a major producing country in a number of agricultural
commodities such as corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton. Therefore, information about changes in
estimations on crops in the United States can have a strong impact on global markets. This agency
offers a multitude of information products on agricultural and food markets at the national and
international level. The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates – WASDE
(http://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/) report (monthly) provides USDA’s comprehensive
forecasts of supply and demand for major crops in the United States and globally and livestock in the United
States. The Production, Supply and Distribution online database (http://www.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/)
contains current and historical official USDA data on production, supply and distribution of agricultural
commodities for the United States and key producing and consuming countries. The USDA’s Global
Agriculture Information Network – GAIN (http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Pages/Default.aspx) provides timely
information on the agricultural economy, products and issues in foreign countries since 1995 that are
likely to have an impact on United States agricultural production and trade. The markets and trade
materials (http://www.fas.usda.gov/markettradedata.asp) include the World markets and trade
(monthly) reports for grains, cotton and oilseeds (for coffee the reports were published twice per year
in 2009 and 2010 and quarterly before 2009; for sugar, they are offered twice per year).

In addition, the annual USDA Prospective Planting Reports which provide information on expected
plantings as of 1 March for a number of commodities are widely awaited by the market participants
every year (http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1136).
Commodity and country analysis can be accessed in the Global Crop Production Analysis
(http://www.pecad.fas.usda.gov/). USDA also publishes Monthly Outlook reports
(http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/outlook/) on the market situation of different commodities and the
Agricultural Outlook Statistical Indicators (http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/AgOutlook/AOTables/).
In addition, this agency provides a Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin
(http://www.usda.gov/oce/weather/pubs/Weekly/Wwcb/index.htm) and reports on State Crop Progress and
Condition (http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/State_Crop_Progress_and_Condition/index.asp) on a
weekly basis. It also publishes information on the situation of grain stocks on a quarterly basis
(http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1079). Looking to the
future, USDA also prepares longer term projections once every year, the latest being the USDA
Agricultural Projections to 2020, which were published in February 2011


Furthermore, although not part of USDA, the United States Government publishes a number of
analyses on markets and trade trends in countries affected by food security problems in Africa, Central
Asia and Central America, such as the Price Watch through its agency for international development,
USAID Famine Early Warning Systems Network (http://www.fews.net/Pages/default.aspx).

Outside the governmental framework, the United States Grain Council publishes the Market
Perspectives newsletter on a weekly basis (http://www.grains.org/~grains27/index.php?option=com_
content&view=article&id=2837:market-perpectives-2011&catid=73). In addition, the third widely
known longer term agricultural outlook (apart from those of OECD-FAO and USDA) is prepared by
the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI). The 2011 edition of the U.S. and World
Agricultural Outlook covers the period up to 2025/26 (http://www.fapri.iastate.edu/outlook/2011/).7

Equally on a national basis, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and
Sciences – ABARES (http://www.abares.gov.au/) of the Government of Australia provides ample
information for all commodities from the Australian perspective, like the quarterly publication entitled
Australian Commodities and the Australian Commodity Statistics. In agricultural commodities, for
example, it produces the Australian Wheat Supply and Exports Monthly or the Australian Crop
Report. ABARES also publishes the Australian climate and agricultural monthly update.

In Europe, the “Comité du Commerce des céréales, aliments du bétail, oléagineux, huile d’olive, huiles et
graisses et agrofournitures” – COCERAL (http://www.coceral.com/cms/beitrag/10017773/227949) publishes
grain and oilseeds crop forecasts for the countries of the European Union. The European Commission also
provides economic analysis and evaluation through the monthly Update on recent agricultural commodity
and food price developments in the EU (http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/analysis/markets/foodprices/).
It also monitors price developments for agricultural commodities and food and publishes
reports on a monthly basis in the International Price Monitoring Newsletter
(http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/analysis/tradepol/commodityprices/index_en.htm). Moreover, the
European Union provides agricultural statistics at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/agrista/index_en.htm
as well as the EU Agriview on Prices, EU Market Prices for representative products
(http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/prices/monthly_en.pdf). Analysis on the cereal sector in
Europe are also provided by Stratégie Grains (http://www.strategie-grains.com/).

Information is less plentiful for regional sources on the situation of food and agriculture markets in
developing countries. However there are some examples such as the ASEAN Food Security
Information System (http://afsis.oae.go.th/index.php) or the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation
on Agriculture–IICA (http://www.iica.int/Eng/Pages/default.aspx). In Africa, information sources for
the agricultural markets situation include RATIN-Regional Agriculture Trade Intelligence Network,
Eastern Africa Grain Council (http://www.tradeafrica.biz/default.asp); and OT Africa Line
(http://www.otal.com/Services/mrktreps.htm) which produces monthly commodity reports on the
latest information covering West African commodities, including food commodities as well as cocoa,
coffee, cotton, rubber and timber. For China, the Ministry of Agriculture provides economic
information on international prices for major agricultural products; and Beijing Orient Agribusiness
Consultant Ltd – BOABC (http://www.boabc.com/index.shtml) is a professional service providing
agricultural consultation, while Cnagri.com (http://en.cnagri.com/) offers information on the
agricultural sector, including reports on the agricultural sector which are not open to the public.

Additional information for individual food commodities can be obtained in the case of rice from
International Rice Research Institute and the French agricultural research organization CIRAD,
Monthly Report on the World Markets of Rice (http://www.cirad.fr/ur/politiques_et_marches/
actualites/evenements/osiriz); in the case of oilseeds, oils and meals, Oil World offers frequent

7 The European Commission publishes every year a comparative analysis of the projections of the
agricultural outlooks of OECD-FAO, FAPRI and USDA. It can be accessed at:


information products (http://www.oilworld.biz/app.php?ista=5d37b2236243650d73614f3885e94ec1).
For sugar the source of reference is the International Sugar Organization:
http://www.isosugar.org/Publications/publication.aspx. Its information products (on subscription)
include: The Sugar Yearbook that gives a comprehensive coverage of sugar production, consumption,
trade and stocks. The monthly Statistical Bulletin provides updates on the world sugar situation
between Yearbooks; the quarterly market outlook is a mid-term analysis on sugar and sweeteners
market developments and provides complete world balance estimates covering sugar production,
consumption, trade and stocks; the monthly market report is a brief report on the market for the
previous month plus comprehensive press summary from news agencies, newspapers and other
periodicals covering all the important sugar developments during that month; and the World Sugar
Balances produced four times a year in conjunction with the ISO Quarterly Market Outlook, which
provide current forecasts and historical data (seven year series) on production, consumption, imports,
exports and stocks on the country-by-country basis, as well as regional and world totals for
October/September crop years.

B. Tropical beverages

In general, apart from the information by commodity provided by FAO
(http://www.fao.org/economic/est/commodity-markets-monitoring-and-outlook/en/) and USDA
(http://www.fas.usda.gov/commodities.asp) at the global level, most information on individual non-
food agricultural commodities is normally offered by specialized study groups, committees or
organizations.8 Initially, most of the commodity bodies were mainly focused on price stabilization
purposes and therefore they played a major role in the regulation of the markets for their respective
commodities.9 However, after the failure of the International Commodity Agreements and following
the trend towards the predominance of the free play of market forces since the 1980s, their role on
price stabilization was drastically weakened. In the process of re-designing their objectives, their
contribution to market transparency by the provision of information became one of the major functions
of these organizations.

The comprehensive historical statistical data on coffee of the International Coffee Organization – ICO
(http://www.ico.org/) comprises annual, quarterly, monthly and daily data from as far back as 1964 on
exports, imports, market prices, prices to growers, production, stocks and inventories. Regular ICO
publications include: Daily Prices (ICO composite and group indicators – website only); Monthly
Trade Statistics on exports, imports and re-exports; Monthly Prices (ICO composite and group
indicators) on the New York, German and French markets; and Coffee Statistics, published quarterly,
which provides information on production, exports, imports, re-exports, market prices, prices to
growers and values of imports and exports. Analyses of the evolution of fundamentals in the coffee
market are also provided in the Monthly Coffee Market Report.

The International Cocoa Organization (http://www.icco.org/) publishes a Monthly Review of the
Cocoa Market Situation which reports on the latest developments on the international cocoa futures
markets as well as on the supply and demand for cocoa beans and other factors influencing the cocoa
trade. The Quarterly Bulletin of Cocoa Statistics provides reliable data and up-to-date analysis on the
cocoa economy from 1960 onwards covering most cocoa producing and importing countries. ICCO
also provides information on prices on a daily basis. The Statistics Section carries out various studies
on the cocoa market, some of which can be found on the statistics web page: assessment of the
movements of global supply and demand, reviewing in detail the developments in the world cocoa
market during the past ten years; report on the annual ICCO survey of cocoa bean stocks which

8 Most of the information provided on individual commodities by these organizations, committees and study
groups is not publicly available, as it is on subscription. The International Coffee Organization is a notable
9 See Osorio (2009) and OECD (2011).


surveys warehouse-keepers to determine stocks of cocoa beans at the end of each crop year;
assessment of world stocks of cocoa beans as at 30 September, which contains information on recently
published estimates of world cocoa bean stocks, assesses their accuracy and attempts to identify their
location as at 30 September of each crop year.

Finally, for tea the information products of the International Tea Committee (http://www.inttea.com/)
include Annual Bulletin of Statistics with data for ten years on acreage, production, exports and
imports by country, world supply/absorption, quantities sold/average prices at auctions, etc. and data
for five years on exports by countries of destination, imports by countries of origin, monthly average
prices for various auction centres, etc., export/import duties for selected countries; and the Monthly
Statistical Summary with data on latest monthly and cumulative production, exports and imports with
corresponding figures for previous year and latest weekly details of total quantities sold and average
prices for various auction centres with corresponding data for previous year.

C. Agricultural raw materials

In the case of cotton a major information source of reference is the International Cotton Advisory
Committee – ICAC (http://www.icac.org/). Its statistics are not publicly available, but some analysis,
publications and presentations can be freely accessed from its website. The Economics and Statistics
Information Section (ESIS) collects data on the cotton market worldwide and is a leading source of
international data on the world cotton industry. It estimates cotton supply by country, forecasts cotton
supply and use by country, and tracks exports by destination and imports by origin. It also measures
and forecasts cotton consumption and cotton’s share of fiber demand in the world and by region and is
the primary source in the world for statistics on fiber demand. ESIS also forecasts the season-average
Cotlook A Index (a global indicator of cotton lint prices) with an econometric model based on cotton
market fundamentals: the ICAC Price Model 2007. The Secretariat draws upon coordinating agencies
in member countries as well as other official and private sources in both member and non-member
countries to compile statistical data. The analysis of ICAC can be complemented by the daily and
weekly analyses that the company Cotton Outlook offers to its clients (http://www.cotlook.com/).

For natural rubber, the reference source at the international level is the International Rubber Study
Group – IRSG (http://www.rubberstudy.com/). Data on production, consumption, trade and prices –
both natural rubber and synthetic rubber – are published on a quarterly basis in the Secretariat’s
Rubber Statistical Bulletin. An analysis of the statistics is given in the quarterly Rubber Industry
Report. The Secretariat also prepares forecasts of rubber production and consumption, and undertakes
statistical studies, where appropriate, on specific aspects of the industry. Short-term forecasts (current
year and next year) are also presented in the Rubber Industry Report, while longer-term forecasts are
given in the semi-annual report the World Rubber Industry Outlook. Furthermore, the Association of
Natural Rubber Producing Countries (http://www.anrpc.org/) provides information on Natural Rubber
Trends and Statistics on a monthly basis (from January 2011, only to subscribers). In natural rubber,
information on the evolution of production in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia is very relevant, as
these three countries account for about 70 per cent of world production.

In the case of tropical timber, the International Tropical Timber Organization – ITTO
(http://www.itto.int/) publishes the Tropical Timber Market (TTM) Report, an output of the ITTO
Market Information Service (MIS) every two weeks with the aim of improving transparency in the
international tropical timber market. The TTM provides market trends and trade news from around the
world, as well as indicative prices for over 400 tropical timber and added-value products. ITTO’s
Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation compiles the most up-to-date and
reliable international statistics available on global production and trade of timber, with an emphasis on
the tropics. It also provides information on trends in forest area, forest management and the economies
of ITTO member countries. In addition, the Forestry & Timber Section of the United Nations
Economic Commission for Europe and FAO is also a reference source of information, data and
analysis on timber (http://timber.unece.org/index.php?id=2&unece_menu_id=1).



Regarding energy commodities, the most comprehensive source of data for the particular case of oil is
the Joint Oil Data Initiative – JODI (http://www.jodidata.org/). It includes 90 countries members of
different organizations (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, EUROSTAT, International Energy
Agency, Latin American Energy Organization, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
and United Nations Statistics Division), which represent about 90 per cent of global oil supply and
demand. The JodiOil World Database is freely available and it is updated once per month. The
database consists of seven product categories: crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline, kerosene,
diesel oil, fuel oil and total oil products; eight flows: production, demand, refinery intake and output,
imports, exports, closing stock levels and stock change; data in three different units: barrels, tons and
litres; data for more than 90 participating countries; data from January 2002 to one month-old.10

From the perspective of the major energy consuming countries, the monthly assessment of the
situation of supply, demand, stocks, prices and refinery activity of the International Energy Agency
(IEA) is available through the Oil Market Report online service (http://omrpublic.iea.org/). The IEA
also publishes, among others, the Medium-Term Oil and Gas Markets which presents a comprehensive
outlook for oil and gas market fundamentals over the next three to five years. On the other side, among
the market information products of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),
the Monthly Oil Market Report (http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/) covers major issues affecting the
world oil market and provides an outlook for crude oil market developments for the coming year. The
report offers a detailed analysis of key developments impacting oil market trends in world oil demand,
supply as well as the oil market balance.

At the national level of the Government of the United States, the Energy Information Administration –
EIA (http://www.eia.gov/) provides a multiplicity of data and analysis on the situation of United States
and global energy markets, with different time frequencies, as for example, the monthly Short-term
Energy Outlook, the Monthly Energy Review or the International Energy Outlook 2010 which presents
an assessment of the outlook for international energy markets through 2035. Furthermore, Natural
Resources Canada (http://nrcan.gc.ca/eneene/index-eng.php) provides statistical information,
analytical reports and other documentation on Energy in Canada.

In the private sector, information can be provided by major oil producing companies, whose views
may be highly regarded by the industry.11 These companies can offer in their websites useful
information on their views about the evolution of the markets, for example in the presentations
provided to investors in relation to their operations and results or at different conferences about the
sector. In this context, the most relevant source of information on energy is the widely used British
Petroleum, Statistical Review of World Energy (annual) which offers objective data about world
energy, markets and trends, which are also publicly available. The review can be accessed at:

In addition, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, IHS-CERA (http://www.ihs.com/products/cera/)
is a leading advisor to different clients, including international energy companies, governments,
financial institutions, and technology providers. IHS CERA delivers critical knowledge and analysis
on energy markets, geopolitics, industry trends, and strategy.

10 An assessment of the current situation of the JODI database can be found in the Intermediate Report
on “Improving the quality of the JODI Database” that the six agencies prepared for the G-20 Finance
Ministers’ meeting on 19 February 2011, Paris, France. The report is available at:
11 See, for instance, Financial Times, Exxon chief on supply, demand and $120 crude, 20 April 2011.


According to its website, the Oil & Gas Journal (http://www.ogj.com/index.html) is the world’s most
widely read petroleum industry publication. Each week the Journal delivers the latest international oil
and gas news; analysis of issues and events; practical technology for design, operation and
maintenance; and important statistics on international markets and activity. Oil & Gas Journal
provides weekly oil statistics covering production, consumption, refining, imports and exports, stocks,
prices and Smith & Baker Hughes rig count statistics from Pennwell Publishing’s Oil & Gas Journal;
Prices for over 40 different worldwide crudes. Statistical information is available through the website
of PennEnergy Research: http://ogjresearch.stores.yahoo.net/index.html.

Platts (http://www.platts.com/) is also a leading global provider of energy and metals information and
a foremost source of benchmark price assessments in the physical energy markets. It produces a
number of real time information products in the form of, for example, end-of-day and intra-day oil
prices and the latest oil news, market commentary and analysis. Similarly, Argus
(http://www.argusmedia.com) publishes a full range of business intelligence reports, market
assessments and special studies regarding all aspects of energy, transport and emissions markets. It
provides other energy-related services including data feeds, conferences and tailor-made research.

Furthermore, the Centre for Global Energy Studies (http://www.cges.co.uk/) provides to its clients in-
depth studies and reports on oil and gas issues, focusing on oil demand, supply and price movements
and forecasts; the futures market; OPEC policy; Geopolitics of the Middle East, the Former Soviet
Union, Africa and other oil and gas producing regions.

For the longer term, OPEC’s outlook looks to trends in the oil market to 2030, while those of IEA and
EIA look forward to 2035. Private oil companies like BP and Exxon Mobil also publish outlooks for
2030, while that of Shell is up to 2050.12


A. Precious metals

The World Gold Council (http://www.gold.org/) is the market development organization for the gold
industry. Its market intelligence is a rolling programme of data collection and analysis, which
produces several distinct sets of statistics including: price graphs and spreadsheets of daily, monthly
and annual gold prices in different currencies; demand and supply statistics detailing gold
consumption and demand and supply flows; and gold reserve statistics data on central bank holdings
of gold.

The Silver Institute (http://www.silverinstitute.org/) is an international association of miners, refiners,
fabricators, and wholesalers of silver and silver products, which provides surveys and reports on the
silver market.

GFMS (http://www.gfms.co.uk/index.htm) is the world’s foremost precious metals consultancy,
specializing in research into the global gold, silver, platinum and palladium markets. Moreover,
GFMS Metals Consultancy offers monthly and quarterly reports on all the base metals and steel.
GFMS provides assessments of the global supply and demand of the above metals, as set out in the
Gold Survey, the World Silver Survey and the Platinum & Palladium Survey. These surveys provide an
in-depth analysis of developments in individual markets and contain a wealth of historical statistics on
production, recycling, trading, fabrication and consumption.

12 These outlooks can be accessed from the website of the International Energy Forum at:


The leading authoritative source for platinum group metals is Johnson Matthey, through its Platinum
Today site (http://www.platinum.matthey.com/publications/). It publishes a market review of supply
and demand for the platinum group metals twice a year. Furthermore, a database is accessible at the
website with data tables which contain estimates of supply and demand. It also provides price charts as
well as monthly and weekly reports on prices.

B. Other metals and minerals

The World Bureau of Metal Statistics – WBMS (http://www.world-bureau.com/index.html) is the
most comprehensive international data resource of reference for stakeholders involved in the global
metals industry. It provides regular publications or surveys tailored to specific needs. WBMS collects
and collates data from a huge number of global sources on production, consumption and trade in the
major non-ferrous metals. In particular, its monthly World Metal Statistics Bulletin offers full up-to-
date information on non-ferrous metal markets.

Raw Materials Group (http://www.rmg.se/) compiles and analyses mining data, mainly through its
proprietary database Raw Materials Data; it is a versatile production-side database, containing more
than 24,000 mining industry entities, and covering precious, base and ferrous metals as well as
ferroalloys and coal. Raw Materials Data gives clients the access to detailed mine information for
Metal and Coal: grades, production information (metal and ore), resources, reserves, mining methods,
and contact details. It also offers project lists, which allow to know about projects in the pipeline –
where they are located in the world, at which project stage (Greenfield, Brownfield, conceptual,
prefeasibility, feasibility, construction), what type of mining operation (open pit versus underground),
estimated production capacity, capital costs, and more. The group also conducts market and industry
surveys, prepares global exploration and project reports, monitors and analyses production, ownership
and mergers and acquisitions, and prepares customized database extracts. It provides information on
ownership and control of production, making it possible to track structural changes within the

Metals Economics Group – MEG (http://www.metalseconomics.com/default.htm) is the primary
source of information and analysis on global minerals exploration, development, and production;
strategic planning issues; and acquisitions activity. The group produces the annual World Exploration
Trends – A Special Report from Metals Economics Group for the PDAC International Convention.
The Metals Economics Group Strategic Report is a bimonthly information service covering strategic
issues in worldwide metals and minerals exploration, development, and production. The MEG
Industry Monitor provides a series of comprehensive graphs and charts illustrating MEG’s analysis of
monthly changes and emerging trends in the base and precious metals pipeline. MEG Corporate
Exploration Strategies (CES) is the industry’s benchmark for exploration trends and strategic analysis,
and the only comprehensive source of global mining exploration budgets. Published annually, CES
examines both corporate and industry-wide exploration activities.

At the level of the national governments, the Mineral Resources Program of the United States
Geological Survey (http://minerals.usgs.gov/) provides data and information by country and mineral
commodity. Its key publications include the Minerals Yearbook which reviews the mineral industries
of the United States and of more than 180 other countries. It contains statistical data on minerals and
materials and includes information on economic and technical trends and developments; the Mineral
Commodity Summaries, published on an annual basis, furnishes estimates covering nonfuel mineral
industry data. Data sheets contain information on the domestic industry structure, Government
programs, tariffs, and 5-year salient statistics for more than 90 individual minerals and materials; the
Mineral Industry Surveys are periodic statistical and economic reports designed to provide timely
statistical data on production, distribution, stocks, and consumption of significant mineral
commodities. The surveys are issued monthly, quarterly, or at other regular intervals; Metal Industry
Indicators is a monthly publication which analyses and forecasts the economic health of three metal
industries (primary metals, steel, and copper) using leading and coincident indexes.


Furthermore, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences –
ABARES (http://www.abares.gov.au/) publishes the Australian Mineral Statistics, in addition to the
publications on commodities mentioned above, which also include information on minerals and
metals. Moreover, Natural Resources Canada (http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/busi-
indu/index-eng.htm) collects and analyses information on Canada’s as well as global minerals and
metals markets. It also conducts commodity, industry and market research, through information
products, such as the Mineral and Metal Commodity Reviews and the Canadian Minerals Yearbook,
and statistics on annual and monthly basis on mineral production, exploration, use and trade in
Canada. In the United Kingdom, MineralsUK (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/mineralsuk/home.html), the
British Geological Survey’s Centre for Sustainable Mineral Development, compiles statistics of
mineral production and trade for the United Kingdom and the world. The data are published as annual
books and ad-hoc/customised reports to suit particular requirements.

As it is the case for individual agricultural commodities, the major reference sources of information on
individual minerals and metals are the specialized study groups.13 The International Copper Study
Group – ICSG (http://www.icsg.org/) is an intergovernmental organization that serves to increase
copper market transparency and promote international discussions and cooperation on issues related to
copper. Its major publications include the ICSG Copper Bulletin (monthly) which contains statistics
on copper and copper products, their production, consumption and trade by country, providing a
global view of supply and demand and the ICSG Statistical Yearbook which includes annual statistics
on copper and copper products, their production, usage and trade by country, as well as stocks and
exchange prices, providing a global view of supply and demand for the past 10 years. The Yearbook
serves as a useful tool for consultations and analysis on the longer term evolution of world copper
production, usage, stocks and prices.

In the case of copper, since exports from Chile account for about 40 per cent of total exports, information
from the Chilean Copper Commission – COCHILCO (http://www.cochilco.cl/english/index.asp) is of
great relevance for developments in global markets. COCHILCO produces statistics and reports on the
copper market with different time frequencies, including the Weekly World Copper Market Review and
the Copper Market Quarterly Review.

Similarly, the International Nickel Study Group (http://www.insg.org/) collects and publishes statistics
on nickel markets (including production, consumption, trade, stocks, prices and other statistics such as
recycling). The Study Group produces a monthly bulletin on World Nickel Statistics. The International
Lead and Zinc Study Group (http://www.ilzsg.org/static/home.aspx) provides continuous information
on the supply and demand position of lead and zinc and its probable development and makes special
studies of the world situation in lead and zinc. Its monthly Lead and Zinc Statistical Bulletin offers
detailed updated information on lead and zinc supply, demand, trade, stocks and prices.

The International Aluminium Institute (http://www.world-aluminium.org/Home) collects statistical
and other relevant information on aluminium and communicates it to the industry and its principle
stakeholders. However, the institute does not collect or supply any price-related information, it does
not hold statistics on metal consumption or demand, nor does it supply information on individual
companies’ production.

There is no international organization which is specifically in charge of iron ore. Nevertheless,
market information on this commodity is provided by the UNCTAD Trust Fund Project
on Iron Ore Information in collaboration with the Raw Materials Group
(http://www.unctad.org/infocomm/Iron/covmar08.htm). Three annual reports on iron ore are published
in the context of this project (The Iron Ore Market, Iron Ore Statistics and Statistical update). They

13 While the regular publications that these study groups publish are generally on sale, their websites provide a
wide range of information in different formats, such as presentations or press releases which are available to the
general public.


provide the only global up-to-date, accurate and comprehensive information on developments in the
world market for iron ore, including both statistical data and analyses.14

The above mentioned Platts also offers comprehensive real-time information for the metal sector in the
form of news, benchmark metals price assessments from around the globe, market commentary and
analysis, like for example Platts Metals Alert and Platts Metals Week. In addition, the company CRU
(http://crugroup.com/Pages/default.aspx) provides industry and market analysis for the copper, lead,
tin and zinc industries. The Precious Metals team monitors the markets for gold, silver and platinum
group metals (including palladium and rhodium). It provides fundamental analysis of the markets
together with short-term and long-term forecasts through regular monitors and quarterly market
outlooks and a range of other reports.

Furthermore, as the minerals and metals sector is characterized by the presence of several large and
concentrated players on the production side, whose views can have an impact on the markets,
information on market developments that they provide may also be of use. This kind of information
can be in the form of presentations by main mining companies at different fora or in connection with
their results reporting. Examples of these major mining companies include:

BHPbilliton (http://www.bhpbilliton.com/bb/home.jsp);

Riotinto (http://www.riotinto.com/);

AngloAmerican (http://www.angloamerican.com/aal/);

Xtrata (http://www.xstrata.com/);

Vale (http://www.vale.com/en-us/Pages/default.aspx);

Alcoa (http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/home.asp);

Codelco (http://www.codelco.com/index1.asp);

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (http://www.fcx.com/).

A number of consulting companies also look at the situation in the minerals and metals sector, with a special
focus on its market structure. These include Ernst&Young (http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Industries/Mining---
Metals), KPMG through, for example, its Mining Executive Forum Overview
spx),15 and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, PWC (http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/energy-utilities-mining/).

Finally, the annual publication entitled Global Mining Finance offers an overview of the industry from
a worldwide perspective and information on how the markets evolve and also on forecasts, as well as
the situation in the sector by region (http://www.globalminingfinance.com/index.html). And
Bloomsbury Minerals Economics (http://www.bloomsburyminerals.com/index.html) offers a number
of products on metal price analysis.

14 Obtaining more up-to-date information on the iron ore market is relatively difficult. For example currently it is
not very clear which the reference price for this mineral is. Until recently, the price of iron ore was determined in
annual negotiations between producing and consuming companies. Since 2010, the annual negotiations were
abandoned and prices are now set on a quarterly or on a spot basis.
15 In general, these consulting companies offer services in relation to different industries, so that they may also
provide information on the energy sector.



A. Information from international organizations and other sources

Additional information on commodity prices and market developments, which normally refer to all
commodities or commodity groups, can be obtained from sources of other international organizations
such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD Commodity Price
Statistics online, which can be accessed through the UNCTAD statistics portal, UNCTADstat
(http://unctadstat.unctad.org), the International Monetary Fund, IMF Primary Commodity Prices
(http://www.imf.org/external/np/res/commod/index.asp), which includes weekly data, and the World
Bank, monthly Commodity Price Data (pink sheet), which is included in its monthly publication, the
Commodity Markets Review (http://externalization.worldbank.org/external/default/main?theSitePK
=2880771&piPK=64691875&pagePK=64691887&contentMDK=21148682). In addition, in response
to the food crisis, the World Bank has also recently launched the monthly Food Price Watch
(http://www.worldbank.org/foodcrisis/foodpricewatch/april_2011.html) which analyses trends in food

Analyses which assess commodity markets from a wider macroeconomic perspective are
offered in annual reports such as the UNCTAD Trade and Development Report
(http://www.unctad.org/Templates/Page.asp?intItemID=3742&lang=1) and the United Nations World
Economic Situation and Prospects report (http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/wesp/index.shtml).
This kind of analysis is also included in the World Economic Outlook
(http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2011/01/index.htm) of the IMF, and the monthly briefs
on Developing Trends of the Development Prospects Group
agePK=64691887&contentMDK=21204967) of the World Bank, as well as the annual Global
Economic Prospects. In this context, the World Bank also offers Commodity Forecasts for about the
following decade.

Outside the international organizations framework, the annual report on commodities by Cercle
Cyclope (in French), is also a reference source for information on developments in these markets. This
firm also publishes a monthly brief on commodities (http://www.cercle-cyclope.com/). Furthermore,
the HWWI Commodity Price Index (http://hwwi-rohindex.de/Start.2660.0.html?&L=1) of the
Hamburg Institute of International Economics provides information on price indices in euros as well
as in dollar terms. It is updated regularly with daily figures being calculated once every week and is
available on a paid subscription basis.

When they include prices, most of these sources refer to monthly and sometimes weekly prices. Apart
from sources mentioned above, such as Platts, daily commodity prices can be obtained from Reuters
Commodities (http://www.reuters.com/finance/commodities) as well as from Bloomberg
(http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/commodities/futures/). Daily prices for metals can also be obtained
from Metal Bulletin (http://www.metalbulletin.com/), Metal Prices (http://www.metalprices.com/), Kitco
(http://www.kitco.com/) or InfoMine (http://www.infomine.com/commodities/). Daily information on
prices can also be found in the Asian Development Bank: Asia Regional Integration Center - Asian
Macroeconomic Developments - Daily Market Watch (http://aric.adb.org/ daily.php).

Commodity forecasts are also offered by companies specialized in market intelligence, such as
Business Monitor International or LMC International (agricultural commodities) and Economist
Intelligence Unit (EIU) Global Forecasting Service (http://gfs.eiu.com/). EIU published its commodity
forecasts on a quarterly basis until the first quarter of 2010; they are published on a monthly basis
since then. In addition, the Working Group on Commodity Prices of the Association of European
Business Cycle Institutes (AIECE) publishes the report on World Commodity Prices twice a year with
price forecasts for the next two years (http://sites-test.uclouvain.be/aiece/password/commodity.html).


JBC Energy (http://www.jbcenergy.com/) is another market intelligence consulting company which
offers information on energy; its energy’s statistical modelling team has developed a supply, demand
and price model that provides JBC Energy’s assessment of fundamental data in the market. With this
model the company performs market studies (i.e. projecting refinery capacity and configuration),
forecasts oil demand by region, by product and by sector, provides detailed coverage of different
products, breaks down demand/supply balances and trade flows by product/crude, by sector and by
country and makes margin analysis and outright price forecasts.

In a similar way, the company Wood Mackenzie (http://www.woodmacresearch.com/cgi-
bin/wmprod/portal/energy/portalup/index.jsp) is also a very comprehensive source of knowledge about
the world’s energy and metals industries. It offers analyses and advise on every stage along the value
chain to provide clients with the commercial insight on these products. Moreover, Commodities
Research Bureau, CRB (http://www.crbtrader.com/default.asp), which mainly focuses on commodity
futures information, also provides its clients with analysis and data on the evolution of fundamentals in
the physical commodity markets.

B. Information on commodities from investment banks and financial institutions

In recent years, as investment banks and other financial institutions have become more and more
involved in the commodities investment business, their commodity research departments have
increased their offer of analysis on commodity market developments. In this context, the views on the
evolution and prospects for the commodity markets provided by some of the major financial
institutions dealing with commodities have become widely influential in the market. As an illustration,
the retreat of investors from commodities and the corresponding price decline in mid-April 2011 that
followed Goldman Sachs note to its clients recommending taking profits and sell commodities
(Goldman Sachs, 2011a) can be an indication of the market power of these institutions which may act
as market movers.16 Commodity prices were on the downward trend over a few weeks following the
announcement of Goldman Sachs, and they suffered one of the sharpest one-day falls on record.17
Shortly after that, a new note was issued on 23 May 2011 (Goldman Sachs, 2011b), where they
reversed the advice and called for an end to the correction, stating that they remained “structurally
bullish” on the oil market. Again, this immediately triggered an increase in prices. As Reuters markets
analyst, John Kemp, has put it “In some sense, Goldman forecasts have become a market

Some examples of information products in this context include: Commodity Daily Briefing, Weekly Oil
Data Review, Commodities Weekly, Metals & Mining Monthly, The Commodity Refiner, Oil Sketches,
Metals Magnifier, Global Energy Outlook (Barclays); Commodity Watch, Agriculture Watch,
Commodities Outlook (Goldman Sachs); Agri-view, Agricultural Forecasts, Commodities Comment,
Commodities Compendium, The Oil & Gas Specialist (Macquarie); Commodity markets outlook and
strategy (JP Morgan); Commodity Outlook, Global energy weekly, Medium-term crude oil outlook to
2015 (Bank of America-Merrill Lynch); Commodity Outlook (Morgan Stanley); Oil and Commodities
Monthly (Nomura); Commodities Quarterly, Commodities Outlook, China Commodities database
(Deutsche Bank); Oil Markets Comment, Metals Market Comment (BNP Paribas); Commodity
Outlook (Credit Suisse); Weekly Commodities Views; Soft Commodities Advisory (CPM Group);
Commodity Strategy (Sarasin); Commodities: Daily (Standard Bank).

16 See Financial Times, Goldman triggers commodity retreat, 13 April 2011 and Financial Times, Barclays takes
pop at Goldman over future path of crude price, 16 April 2011.
17 See Financial Times, Goldman says Brent will hit $130, 25 May 2011.
18 See Reuters, Goldman´s gyrating forecasts test its influence, 25 May 2011.


While many of these information products are provided only to the clients of these financial
institutions and banks, some of them offer the information open to the general public. These include:

The Goods - A Monthly Commodity Watch:
http://www.bmonesbittburns.com/economics/topic.asp?commodities (BMO Capital Markets:);

Commodities daily, Commodities Weekly: http://www-2.danskebank.com/danskeresearch (Danske Bank);

Commodity Price Forecast Update: http://www.td.com/economics/index.jsp (TD Economics);

Commodity Price Index: http://www.scotiacapital.com/English/bns_econ/bnscomod.pdf (Scotiabank);

Commodity Outlook: http://www.hypovereinsbank.de/portal?view=/research/213681.jsp (Unicredit);

Commodity Price Monitor: http://www.rbc.com/economics/market/ (RBC);

Commodity Trends:
(Desjardins); and

Special Commodities Updates: http://www.smctradeonline.com/commodities-updates.aspx (SMC).

C. Information on commodities from specialized websites and media

Specialized websites on commodity news and information are also useful to access the most up-to-date
news on events and developments affecting commodity market fundamentals. These include sources
such as:

Commodity online (http://www.commodityonline.com/);

Commodities Now (http://www.commodities-now.com/);

Commodity Insights (http://www.commodityinsights.com/index.aspx);

Commod@frica (http://www.commodafrica.com/fr/accueil);

Oxford Economics, Commodity Price Monitor

The Public Ledger (http://www.agra-net.com/portal2/pl/home.jsp);

Agranet (http://www.agra-net.com/portal2/home.jsp);

World Grain.com (http://www.world-grain.com/Default.aspx);

AgManager (http://www.agmanager.info/);

AgResource (http://www.agresource.com/);

Grain Net (http://www.grainnet.com/index.html);

Rice online (http://www.riceonline.com/);

Oryza (http://oryza.com/World-News/);

Oils&Fats International (http://oilsandfatsinternational.com/prev/);

Kingsman (http://www.kingsman.com/);

Marchés Tropicaux et Méditerranéens (http://www.mtm-news.com/homepub);

Platts (http://www.platts.com/NewsandAnalysisHome);

Rigzone (http://www.rigzone.com/);

WTRG Economics (http://www.wtrg.com/);

Energy Intelligence (http://www.energyintel.com/);


Base Metals (http://www.basemetals.com/);

Bullion Desk (http://www.thebulliondesk.com/);

Opalesque (http://www.opalesque.com/Commodities_Briefing/?logon=Guest);

Kitco – Gold and precious metals (http://www.kitco.com/);

Kitco – Base Metals (http://www.kitcometals.com/);

Metal Bulletin (http://www.metalbulletin.com/);

Mining Weekly (http://www.miningweekly.com/);

Mining Jounal (http://www.mining-journal.com/);

Mining Review (http://beta.miningreview.com/week_at_a_glance);

Resource Investor (http://www.resourceinvestor.com/Pages/default.aspx);

Mine Web (http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page102055);

Info Mine (http://www.infomine.com/news/);

London Bullion Market Association (http://www.lbma.org.uk/pages/index.cfm);

China Metals Information Network (http://www.antaike.com/gj/index.asp);

Asian Metal (http://www.asianmetal.com/).

Furthermore, the UNCTAD’s portal on commodities information, INFOCOMM
(http://www.unctad.org/infocomm/anglais/indexen.htm), is a useful tool to access different links of
interest for individual commodities.

In addition, specialized media on financial and economic news can be of use for keeping informed
and updated on developments in international commodity markets. However, in recent years it is
possible to observe the dominance of the financial aspects over physical fundamentals; most of
the commodity experts quoted in the press represent the financial institutions, while the presence
in the press of those actors involved in the physical markets is much lower. Among these
specialized media, Thomson Reuters offers daily commodities briefs for different commodity
groups, such as the Inside Commodities, Inside Oil, Inside Agriculture and Metals Insider

Other examples include the Financial Times, which offers daily news on the evolution of the
commodity sector, as well as special reports on commodities and on oil and gas about twice per year,
Bloomberg Commodity News or the Wall Street Journal and Les Echos, as well as Business Standard.
Roubini Global Economics also offers specific information for commodities.

D. Commodity exchanges

Information from commodity exchanges may also be useful for different market participants,
particularly in what relates to prices. In developing countries, commodity exchanges may help in this
regard, by assuming the function of information provider for the different actors in the physical
markets, which other institutions may not be able to offer.19

Major commodity exchanges around the world, which can be useful sources for information purposes,
include CME Group (http://www.cmegroup.com/), Intercontinental Exchange, mainly focused on
energy commodities (https://www.theice.com/homepage.jhtml), LIFFE for agricultural products

19 See UNCTAD (2009b).


(http://www.euronext.com/landing/liffeLanding-12601-EN.html), Kansas City Board of Trade for
wheat (http://www.kcbt.com/) and London Metal Exchange, LME (http://www.lme.com/) and the
Shanghai Futures Exchange (http://www.shfe.com.cn/ Ehome/index.html) for metals. Other relevant
commodity exchanges in developing countries are Multi Commodity Exchange of India, MCX
(http://www.mcxindia.com/home.aspx), Singapore Commodity Exchange (http://www.sicom.net/),
SAFEX Commodity Derivatives Market in South Africa (http://www.jse.co.za/Markets/Commodity-
Derivatives-Market.aspx), the Bolsa de Cereales for grains in Argentina
(http://www.bolsadecereales.com/i_default.asp), and Bolsa de Mercadorias & Futuros, BM&F
BOVESPA, in Brazil (http://www.bmfbovespa.com.br/en-us/home.aspx?idioma=en-us).

E. Global conferences on commodities

Finally, a number of meetings, events or major international commodity conferences can also be
regarded as potential channels for commodity market participants to capture the pulse of the markets,
as they provide opportunities to share information on the developments in supply and demand.20 Some
examples of international conferences and meetings with a focus on commodities include:

UNCTAD’s Global Commodity Forum (http://www.unctad.info/en/Special-Unit-on-

USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum (http://www.usda.gov/oce/forum/index.htm);

IGC Annual Grains Conference (http://www.igc.int/en/conference/confhome.aspx);

Global Forum on Food and Agriculture (http://www.gffa-berlin.de/en.html);

LME Week (http://www.lme.com/lmeweek.asp);

Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention, Trade Show
and Investors Exchange (http://www.pdac.ca/pdac/conv/);

Chilean Center of Copper and Mining Studies, CESCO Week (http://www.cesco.cl/english/cesco_week.html);

Mining Indaba (http://www.miningindaba.com/);

ABARES Outlook Conference (http://www.daff.gov.au/abare-brs/outlook);

Inside Commodities Conference (http://www.indexuniverse.com/insidecommodities/speaker-


This review shows that there are abundant data and information resources that may help assess the
evolution of the physical fundamentals in international commodity markets. Moreover, the supply of
these information products has improved and increased in recent years as a response to the turbulence
in commodity markets. However, a number of information gaps and areas for improving transparency
in physical commodity markets can still be identified:

• There are doubts about the reliability of data on commodity stocks and storage due to problems
with data collection and the fact that a large proportion of stocks are held by private entities. In the
oil sector, for instance, Khan (2009) reports that most non-OECD countries do not report data on
oil inventories. There is also room for improvement in what regards the availability of data on the
amount of oil stored in oil tankers in the sea. The proprietary nature of this information causes
publicly available stock data to be particularly incomplete. The accuracy of information on spare

20 In some cases, presentations provided by different participants at these conferences can be accessible through
their websites.


capacity in the oil sector is also limited. In addition, the opacity of oil statistics implies that it takes
time until the full picture of what is happening in the markets becomes clear.21

• In the extractive industries, improved data on reserves, as well as on expenditures on exploration
and capacity improvements, could help reduce uncertainties about future shortages of energy
commodities and minerals and metals.

• There is room for greater timeliness of the information and for increasing its frequency; in most
cases the lowest frequency of publication of the information is on a monthly basis. Particularly in
the context of food production, a useful tool could be the enhanced use of satellite technologies for
estimations of planted areas and projections of crops. However, this may prove difficult in
developing countries, particularly the poorest ones, due to capacity and financial constraints.

• The public availability of information could be improved, as much of the information is only
available to private users who pay for access to it.

• There is a need to improve the coordination and homogenization of the existing information
sources. The harmonization of data provision and a more systematic way of data presentation
would greatly facilitate accessibility of available information.

• Information at the national level should be improved for key players in the commodity markets
(other than Australia and the United States, for example) whose developments can have a strong
impact on global markets. This is important, as the current landscape of commodity markets is
changing, with emerging markets like Brazil and China becoming increasingly influential.22 In
particular, the emergence of China as a key determinant of the evolution of physical commodity
markets, both on the consumption and on the production side, calls for improving the availability
and reliability of information about commodity markets in this country. Uncertainties about the
possible evolution of China’s commodity trade can contribute to increased volatility in global
commodity markets.23

• At the domestic level in developing countries, there is also a need for better data collection and
analysis tools to improve understanding on how the transmission of international prices to
domestic prices works, particularly in the agricultural sector. According to the FAO, the World
Bank and the United Nations (2011), “Many countries, especially in the developing world, lack the
capacity to produce and report even the minimum set of agricultural data necessary to monitor
national trends or inform the international development debate”, and they recognize that the
availability and quality of agricultural statistics in developing countries has declined. In order to
address this issue these organizations are proposing a global strategy to improve agricultural and
rural statistics.

• In addition, emerging issues in commodity markets should be adequately integrated in the
information provided, and new data should be collected. For example, currently it is not easy to
assess the proportion of agricultural crops being diverted for biofuel use at the global level –
although this information can be found in relation to production in the United States.

21 See for instance, Financial Times, Shockwaves from Saudi´s crude statistics, 19 April 2011.
22 See also Financial Times, Policymakers need new commodities roadmap, 21 July 2010.
23 For an illustration on the uncertainties on the markets regarding information about the situation in China, see,
Financial Times, China´s copper stockpiles weigh heavy on industry, 8 April 2011, which reports that as there
are no official statistics, traders estimate inventories of copper in bonded warehouses at ports doubled in the last
six months. However, the question is whether this means less use of copper in the country or whether smelters
and participants further down the chain were running down stocks in the hope of better prices. See also,
Financial Times, China to build cotton reserve in effort to encourage output, 31 March 2011, which reports that
China considers grain and oil reserves to be a state secret. In addition, Macquarie (2008) provides some elements
of discussion on the problems of China´s statistics in the metals markets.


• Furthermore, there has been wider availability of information, analysis and forecasts on
commodity markets provided by investment banks and financial institutions which are increasingly
involved in the commodity investment business and which can be highly influential on these
markets; however, their objectivity is questionable as long as research departments of these banks
and financial institutions are not kept independent from their trading departments.

As a result of the above-mentioned information gaps and asymmetries, market participants may find it
difficult to monitor and analyse properly the evolution of physical fundamentals of commodity
markets. This implies that they often have to take their trading decisions in a context of significant
uncertainty. Therefore, improving the availability of up-to-date and reliable information on
commodity supply, demand and stocks is essential to facilitate the formation of accurate price
expectations and the efficient functioning of commodity markets. If market participants base their
decisions on little or wrong information, there is a risk that price movements will be accentuated and
sizeable divergences of actual prices from fundamental values may arise.

An additional factor to consider is that even when information is available, the functioning of the
markets may be distorted due to different interpretations of the information by market participants.
Taking the example of oil, Singleton (2011) shows that there are significant disagreements among
forecasters regarding future developments in the market, and that there is a strong positive correlation
between the degree of disagreement and the level of the oil price.24 The differences of opinion may
send the wrong signals to the markets, as market participants may also be making inferences about the
opinions of other market participants. This may lead to herding behaviour, which will cause prices to
deviate from their fundamental values and consequently lead to increased volatility in commodity

24 Divergence in forecasts is not only found in the oil market. As an illustration, looking at the data on wheat
production provided in March 2011 by the USDA WASDE report, the FAO Crop Prospects and Food Situation
and the International Grains Council, Grains Market Report, it is possible to observe that while the actual data
for world production in 2009 are very similar, the estimations for 2010 are of 682.59, 653.7 and 678 million tons
respectively, and the projections for 2011 are 647.6, 676, and 649 million tons respectively.



EC (2011). Tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials. Communication from the
Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and
the Committee of the Regions. Brussels. 2 February.

FAO, United Nations and World Bank (2010). Global strategy to improve agricultural and rural statistics. Report
number 56719-GLB. Washington, DC.

FAO et al. (2011). Price volatility in food and agricultural markets: Policy responses. Policy report including
contributions by FAO, IFAD, IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, WFP, the World Bank, WTO, IFPRI and the UN

Gilbert CL (2010). Speculative influences on commodity futures prices 2006–2008. UNCTAD Discussion Paper
No. 197. Geneva, March.

Goldman Sachs (2011a). Energy Weekly: Prices return to spring 2008 levels, but fundamentals not there yet.
12 April.

Goldman Sachs (2011b). Energy Weekly: After the correction, a more bullish trajectory for oil prices. 23 May.

Henn M (2011). Evidence on the Impact of Commodity Speculation by Scientists, Analysts and Public
Institutions. Available at:

IATP (2011). Excessive Speculation in Agriculture Commodities. Selected Writings from 2008–2011. Institute
for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Minneapolis, MIN. April.

IEA (2010). Even notice: IEA/IEEJ Joint Oil Price Formation Workshop. International Energy Agency
and Institute of Energy Economics Japan. Tokyo. 25 February. Available at:

IOSCO (2009). Final Report. Task Force on Commodity Futures Markets. Technical Committee of the
International Organization of Securities Commissions. March.

IOSCO (2010a). Report of the Task Force on Commodity Futures Markets to the G-20. Technical Committee of
the International Organization of Securities Commissions. June.

IOSCO (2010b). Report of the Task Force on Commodity Futures Markets to the G-20. Technical Committee of
the International Organization of Securities Commissions. November.

Khan MS (2009). The 2008 oil price “bubble”. Policy Brief 09/19. Peterson Institute for International
Economics. Washington, DC, August.

Macquarie (2008). Chinese statistics and metal forecasting. Macquarie Commodities Research. April.

OECD (2011). An Assessment of International Commodity Agreements for Commodity Price Stabilisation.
Working Party on Agricultural Policies and Markets, TAD/CA/APM/WP(2010)36/FINAL. OECD, Paris.

Osorio N (2009). International commodity governance and the role of international commodity bodies.
Presentation at the Common Fund for Commodities Seminar on “The Role of Commodities in
Development”. The Hague. 14 December.

Sanders DR and Irwin SH (2010). A speculative bubble in commodity futures prices?: cross-sectional evidence.
Agricultural Economics, 41(1): 25–32.

Singleton KJ (2011). Investor flows and 2008 boom/bust in oil prices. Stanford University. Available at:

Tang K and Xiong W (2010). Index investment and financialization of commodities. Princeton University.
Working Paper 16385. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge (Mass), September.

UNCTAD (2009a). Trade and Development Report 2009, Chapter II: The Financialization of Commodity
Markets. United Nations publication, New York and Geneva.


UNCTAD (2009b). Development impacts of commodity exchanges in emerging markets.
UNCTAD/DITC/COM/2008/9. United Nations publication, New York and Geneva.

UNCTAD (2011a). Price formation in financialized commodity markets: The role of information.
UNCTAD/GDS/2011/1. United Nations publication, New York and Geneva.

UNCTAD (2011b). Report of the Multi-year Expert Meeting on Commodities and Development on its third
session. TD/B/C.I/MEM.2/16. Geneva. 8 April.



No. Date Author(s) Title

201 February 2011 Ulrich Hoffmann Assuring food security in developing countries under the
challenges of climate change: Key trade and development
issues of a fundamental transformation of agriculture

200 September 2010 Jörg Mayer Global rebalancing: Effects on trade flows and employment

199 June 2010 Ugo Panizza
Federico Sturzenegger
Jeromin Zettelmeyer

International government debt

198 April 2010 Lee C. Buchheit
G. Mitu Gulati

Responsible sovereign lending and borrowing

197 March 2010 Christopher L. Gilbert Speculative influences on commodity futures prices

196 November 2009 Michael Herrmann Food security and agricultural development in times of
high commodity prices

195 October 2009 Jörg Mayer The growing interdependence between financial and
commodity markets

194 June 2009 Andrew Cornford Statistics for international trade in banking services:
Requirements, availability and prospects

193 January 2009 Sebastian Dullien Central banking, financial institutions and credit creation
in developing countries

192 November 2008 Enrique Cosio-Pascal The emerging of a multilateral forum for debt
restructuring: The Paris Club

191 October 2008 Jörg Mayer Policy space: What, for what, and where?

190 October 2008 Martin Knoll Budget support: A reformed approach or old wine in new

189 September 2008 Martina Metzger Regional cooperation and integration in sub-Saharan Africa

188 March 2008 Ugo Panizza Domestic and external public debt in developing

187 February 2008 Michael Geiger Instruments of monetary policy in China and their
effectiveness: 1994–2006

186 January 2008 Marwan Elkhoury Credit rating agencies and their potential impact on
developing countries

185 July 2007 Robert Howse The concept of odious debt in public international law

184 May 2007 André Nassif National innovation system and macroeconomic policies:
Brazil and India in comparative perspective

183 April 2007 Irfan ul Haque Rethinking industrial policy

182 October 2006 Robert Rowthorn The renaissance of China and India: Implications for the
advanced economies

181 October 2005 Michael Sakbani A re-examination of the architecture of the international
economic system in a global setting: Issues and proposals


No. Date Author(s) Title

180 October 2005 Jörg Mayer and
Pilar Fajarnes

Tripling Africa’s Primary Exports: What? How? Where?

179 April 2005 S.M. Shafaeddin Trade liberalization and economic reform in developing
countries: Structural change or de-industrialization?

178 April 2005 Andrew Cornford Basel II: The revised framework of June 2004

177 April 2005 Benu Schneider Do global standards and codes prevent financial crises?
Some proposals on modifying the standards-based

176 December 2004 Jörg Mayer Not totally naked: Textiles and clothing trade in a quota
free environment

175 August 2004 S.M. Shafaeddin Who is the master? Who is the servant? Market or

174 August 2004 Jörg Mayer Industrialization in developing countries: Some evidence
from a new economic geography perspective

173 June 2004 Irfan ul Haque Globalization, neoliberalism and labour

172 June 2004 Andrew J. Cornford The WTO negotiations on financial services: Current
issues and future directions

171 May 2004 Andrew J. Cornford Variable geometry for the WTO: Concepts and precedents

170 May 2004 Robert Rowthorn and
Ken Coutts

De-industrialization and the balance of payments in
advanced economies

169 April 2004 Shigehisa Kasahara The flying geese paradigm: A critical study of its
application to East Asian regional development

168 February 2004 Alberto Gabriele Policy alternatives in reforming power utilities in
developing countries: A critical survey

167 January 2004 Richard Kozul-Wright
and Paul Rayment

Globalization reloaded: An UNCTAD Perspective

166 February 2003 Jörg Mayer The fallacy of composition: A review of the literature

165 November 2002 Yuefen Li China’s accession to WTO: Exaggerated fears?

164 November 2002 Lucas Assuncao and
ZhongXiang Zhang

Domestic climate change policies and the WTO

163 November 2002 A.S. Bhalla and S. Qiu China’s WTO accession. Its impact on Chinese

162 July 2002 Peter Nolan and
Jin Zhang

The challenge of globalization for large Chinese firms

161 June 2002 Zheng Zhihai and
Zhao Yumin

China’s terms of trade in manufactures, 1993–2000

160 June 2002 S.M. Shafaeddin The impact of China’s accession to WTO on exports of
developing countries

159 May 2002 Jörg Mayer,
Arunas Butkevicius
and Ali Kadri

Dynamic products in world exports


No. Date Author(s) Title

158 April 2002 Yılmaz Akyüz and
Korkut Boratav

The making of the Turkish financial crisis

157 September 2001 Heiner Flassbeck The exchange rate: Economic policy tool or market

156 August 2001 Andrew J. Cornford The Basel Committee’s proposals for revised capital
standards: Mark 2 and the state of play

155 August 2001 Alberto Gabriele Science and technology policies, industrial reform and
technical progress in China: Can socialist property rights
be compatible with technological catching up?

154 June 2001 Jörg Mayer Technology diffusion, human capital and economic
growth in developing countries

153 December 2000 Mehdi Shafaeddin Free trade or fair trade? Fallacies surrounding the theories
of trade liberalization and protection and contradictions in
international trade rules

152 December 2000 Dilip K. Das Asian crisis: Distilling critical lessons

151 October 2000 Bernard Shull Financial modernization legislation in the United States –
Background and implications

150 August 2000 Jörg Mayer Globalization, technology transfer and skill accumulation
in low-income countries

149 July 2000 Mehdi Shafaeddin What did Frederick List actually say? Some clarifications
on the infant industry argument

148 April 2000 Yılmaz Akyüz The debate on the international financial architecture:
Reforming the reformers

146 February 2000 Manuel R. Agosin and
Ricardo Mayer

Foreign investment in developing countries: Does it
crowd in domestic investment?

145 January 2000 B. Andersen,
Z. Kozul-Wright and
R. Kozul-Wright

Copyrights, competition and development: The case of
the music industry

Copies of UNCTAD Discussion Papers may be obtained from the Publications Assistant, Macroeconomic and
Development Policies Branch (MDPB), Division on Globalization and Development Strategies (DGDS),
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland (Fax no: +41 (0)22 917 0274/Tel. no: +41 (0)22 917 5896). Discussion Papers are accessible on
the website at http://www.unctad.org.