This Week in Commodities

Fasten your seat belts, Fools. It's been another roller coaster week in the commodities space, and we're climbing aboard for another quick run-through.

Oil prices fell Thursday after China announced that it will raise gasoline prices. The announcement apparently raised some short-lived concern over a potential impact on Chinese demand for oil. Range-bound trading in the $130s remains strongly intact, though. Natural gas, meanwhile continued its ascent and took out the $13 mark this week. Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  ) continued to deliver the good news in announcing a joint venture with Goodrich Petroleum for working interests within the Haynesville Shale of Louisiana, while Precision Drilling Trust (NYSE: PDS  ) took its bid for Grey Wolf into hostile territory.

Midwest flooding makes its mark
The relentless flood waters in the Midwest continue to devastate crops throughout the region. From a base of historically high food prices, this flood event is set to push prices for corn, wheat, and soybeans even higher. This Fool is waiting to see how much longer the Federal Reserve gets away with focusing on the core Consumer Price Index that excludes food and energy, because the figure increasingly flies in the face of the reality that consumers experience every day.

Coal-mining shares spiked sharply Thursday morning as key coal-carrying east-west rail lines continued to be cut off by the raging rivers. Before profit-taking set in, red-hot Patriot Coal (NYSE: PCX  ) surpassed the $160 mark. That makes it a four-bagger since January!

Metals in short supply
Aluminum prices reached a three-month high Friday after Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) announced that it will cut 50% of production at its Rockdale, Texas, facility because of power-supply issues. Aluminum Corporation of China (NYSE: ACH  ) , meanwhile, indicated that the massive snowstorms in China back in January hampered production.

The potential for major disruption to copper production in Peru has been averted for now, as officials resolved a dispute over tax revenues from mining operations in the region. Southern Copper's (NYSE: PCU  ) Cajuone mine and Ilo smelter were shut in by barricaded roads but are now expected to resume normal production. A labor strike at Freeport-McMoRan's (NYSE: FCX  ) Cerro Verde mine continues, but the company reports that production remains uninterrupted.

In precious metals, gold recaptured the $900 mark as its corrective consolidation pattern builds strength. The U.S. Dollar index stands at 73.03, and indication that all of the talk of a dollar rally has thus far been just that: talk.

See you next week, Fools.

Last call for key news:

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