Silver prices rallied Friday to the highest prices they've seen since disco was in style. Prices leapt to new 31-year highs as inflation data released this week showed higher levels of U.S. inflation than expected, and buying fed upon itself as prices climbed past the recent $31.27 high.
In addition to its allure as a perceived hedge against inflation, silver has also garnered interest as a commodity with limited supply. Some experts state that the above-ground supply of silver is one-fifth that of gold. Demand for silver has been burgeoning from its uses in jewelry, medicine and electronics applications. It conducts electricity better than any other element, making it especially popular as the electronics industry expands worldwide. The all-time high in silver of $50 per ounce was made in 1981. As of Friday morning, silver for March delivery was trading as high as $32.87 per ounce.
Corn rally fueled by strong demand
Corn prices pushed into fresh 30-month highs again on Friday morning, reaching $7.15 per bushel. Corn has recently been climbing faster than other agricultural commodities as traders focused on the extremely tight supply in the corn market.
High gasoline prices will also serve to bolster the corn market, because ethanol producers will be able to make a profit from converting corn into the fuel despite the high price of corn. Some analysts warn that corn prices may have to rise as high as $8 per bushel in order to decrease demand from ethanol producers. Until demand is decreased, corn market participants will continue to closely monitor corn stockpile numbers as the United States rapidly eats through its supplies.
Gasoline rockets higher
Gasoline prices reached new two-year highs on Thursday morning at $2.56 per gallon. Although this may sound like a steep discount to the national average pump price of $3.15 per gallon, the futures price represents the cost of gasoline only, not taxes and other fees that you may encounter at the pump.
Over the last three weeks, wholesale gasoline prices have risen 8% over uncertainty in the Middle East. Political unrest began in Tunisia and Egypt, but has now spread across the region to Bahrain, Libya, Iran and Yemen. Many of the nations with political unrest are either major oil producers or are integral to maintaining stability in the region.
In addition to threats to the crude oil supply, gasoline prices have also gained as refineries in the United States encountered problems this week, forcing them to shut down and stop producing gasoline.