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Frequently Asked Questions

IMF Primary Commodity Prices

Last Updated: November 27, 2013

Primary Commodity Price tables are presented annually, quarterly, monthly, and weekly.



Q: Where can I find and download commodity prices and indices?

A: You can find commodity prices and indices in the CSV file at the bottom of this page: www.imf.org/external/np/res/commod/index.asp The data are monthly and go back to 1980.

Q: Are the prices you report in nominal or real terms?

A: The prices we report are in nominal U.S. dollars.

Q: Do you report average or end-of-period prices?

A: Our prices are period averages.

Q: Are your prices and indices seasonally adjusted?

A: No, our prices and indices are not seasonally adjusted.

Q: Are your commodity prices country-specific?

A: No, we report benchmark prices which are representative of the global market. They are determined by the largest exporter of a given commodity.

Q: Where can I find the descriptions of commodity prices and indices, including data sources and commodity grades and weights?

A: You can see the current and the previous weights in the comparison table in the beginning of the page on our website: www.imf.org/external/np/res/commod/index.asp. You can also find commodity descriptions, sources and weights at the bottom of each of the tables posted on the webpage.

Q: How often are the monthly figures updated?

A: Monthly data are updated on the Wednesday of the first full week of each month, so that we have time to collect all the needed data for the previous month, and is posted on the website shortly afterwards.

Q: Do you report futures prices or price forecasts?

A: We do not report futures prices; however price projections for two years ahead are available on the IMF World Economic Outlook website: www.imf.org/external/ns/cs.aspx?id=28. Click on the most recent publication. Select "By country groups", click on "world", then select the commodity prices and indices you are interested in. Lastly, choose the date range for the data and click on "prepare report".

Q: How are commodity indices constructed?

A: Our indices are based in 2005 (average of 2005 = 100). We first calculate individual commodity price indices in U.S. dollar and SDR terms, basing the price series in those currencies in 2005. Group indices are weighted averages of individual commodity price indices, with respective commodity weights derived from their relative trade values compared to the total world trade as reported in the UN Comtrade database.

Q: How often do you update the index weights?

A: We calculate the weights about every 5 years. The weights in the commodity basket reflect the structure of trade in 2002-2004 (previously it was 1995-1997). The choice of years reflects the desire of getting the most updated weights possible but still having sufficient data to improve accuracy. As part of the update, a thorough research into the basket of commodities was conducted to see whether the items included earlier are still representative in global commodities trade. The rule of thumb is that their share in total commodities trade has to be 3 percent or more of total commodities trade, in value terms. From this process, coconut oil was taken out and rapeseed oil was included in the new index. In recent years, the amount of coconut oil traded has decreased, while the trade of rapeseed has increased due to its use for canola oil and bio-diesel production.

Q: The World Bank also has commodity index, how do yours and theirs differ?

A: The WBI's basket, designed to be representative of developing countries, does not include advanced economies' trade for the purposes of constructing the index. Consequently, certain commodities such as aluminum and rapeseed oil that constitute important export shares of Australia and Canada will have a greater weight in our index compared to the WBI, while rice, coffee, sugar, palm oil and copper make up higher export shares of developing countries. The metal weights are generally lower for the WBI since they use a narrower and more traditional definition of primary refined metal, namely, unwrought refined metals only. The choice of commodities in the basket differs. The World Bank includes some commodities that are not in our index, such as fertilizers and tobacco, which constitute 5.9 percent of their total weights. In turn, we include some commodities not included in the WBI, such as sunflower and olive oils, seafood, softwood, wool, hides and uranium. These constitute 24.6 percent of the total weight. The price definitions differ in some cases. For some commodities such as tea and coal, we collect prices from market different from the World Bank. This can produce some different price movements in the short run.

Q: Do you have high-frequency commodity prices, such as weekly or daily?

A: In our database, we do not provide high-frequency data as for many commodities in our indices these data are not available. However, you can refer to "Table 4. Average Weekly Prices for Non-Fuel and Fuel Commodities" on our website for weekly prices for selected commodities.

Q: I noticed that the prices in your database change retroactively - why is that?

A: We update our prices retroactively when our data sources update their figures retroactively. This usually pertains to the most recent few months. Also, there are several series for which data releases lag one or two months, in which case we report an estimate for the missing months and then replace the estimates with official data when they become available to us. Indices change as their inputs get updated.

Q: Can I use your commodity data for a publication?

A: You are welcome to use our commodity data for written work as long as you cite the database accordingly. For copyright and usage information on IMF work see www.imf.org/external/terms.htm.

Q: If I have a question, which is not covered in this section, who can I contact for assistance?

A: Please feel free to e-mail the IMF Research Department's commodities team at commodities@imf.org with questions regarding our data.