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The Price of the Stuff That Makes Everything Is Surging

Global economic rebound is fueling a blistering commodities rally 

A red hot steel slab passes through a rolling mill.
Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

The prices of raw materials used to make almost everything are skyrocketing, and the upward trajectory looks set to continue as the world economy roars back to life.

From steel and copper to corn and lumber, commodities started 2021 with a bang, surging to levels not seen for years. The rally threatens to raise the cost of goods from the lunchtime sandwich to gleaming skyscrapers. It’s also lit the fuse on the massive reflation trade that’s gripped markets this year and pushed up inflation expectations. With the U.S. economy pumped up on fiscal stimulus, and Europe’s economy starting to reopen as its vaccination rollout gets into gear, there’s little reason to expect a change in direction.