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This guide is designed to assist students doing research on commodities. It will help answer the following questions:
- Where is the commodity found? This includes both the country or countries and the type of environment.
- What are the environmental considerations associated with the extraction or production of the commodity?
- How is the commodity extracted (produced) and by whom?
- How much of the commodity is left?
- Who uses the commodity (industries, individual consumers)?
- How is the commodity used?
- In what form is the commodity used?
- What is the price of the commodity (current, historical, and trends)?
The guide also provides information on Commodities Market Trading.
Use the Library Catalogue to find books, research reports, and government documents here at SFU Library.
Books about commodity markets and futures trading
Browse by subject in the Catalogue for topics such as Commodity exchanges or Futures market and the sub-topics (called sub-headings) which include different countries (e.g. Commodity exchanges - Canada) or topics (e.g. Commodity exchanges - History).
For information on a specific commodity exchange, use the exchange name as a subject search e.g. Chicago Board of Trade.
Books about a commodity or group of commodities
Search by the name of your resource or commodity as a subject.
Scan the list of subject headings to see what is available. For example, try searching for the subject, Nickel. You will see that there are many books on this subject. They are categorized by sub-topic (called sub-headings), such as Environmental aspects, and by a more specific topic, such as Nickel Industry, Nickel mines and Mining. Don't forget to try alternate terms for your commodity (ie. Canola is also called Rapeseed; pigs are also called hogs).
If you don't find any books on your commodity, remember that it is part of broader groups of commodities. For example, the commodity Canola is part of the Oilseeds group, which is part of the Grains group, which is part of the Agricultural group. The commodity pigs is part of the Livestock group, which is also part of the Agricultural group. Gold is part of the Precious Metals group, which is part of the Metals group.
Another way to find books on your commodity and various aspects of it is to use keyword searching. Keyword searches are especially useful for finding chapters in edited books. For example, try this search: forest* AND (ecolog* OR environment*) AND British Columbia. You will find chapters in several edited books and also some other subjects for further searching, including Sustainable Forestry.
Use these databases to find information about your commodity in academic, trade and popular magazines, newspapers and government publications:
- Academic Search Premier
- Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA)
- Business Source Complete
- Canadian Newsstream
- Canadian Research Index
- CBCA Complete
- Factiva : Use the Subject drop-down options to focus on specific commodity types
- LexisNexis (International news and industry publications.)
Each of these reference books has some information on commodities, commodity markets, price indexes and other relevant topics.
- Dictionary of Human Geography (online or print)
- Encyclopedia of Business (print)
- Encyclopedia of Environmental Analysis and Remediation (print)
- Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues (print)
- International Encyclopedia of Business & Management (print)
- International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (print)
- The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics
- The World's Futures & Options Markets (print)
Associations & exchanges
In addition to the links below, it is often helpful to find an association or organization that is specific to your commodity (or commodity group). Use one or more of the sources listed in our Finding Business and Trade Associations guide to find an appropriate association for your commodity.
- Canadian Society of Technical Analysts
- Futures Industry Association
- National Futures Association (US)
Here are just a few of the many commodity exchanges. Some commodity exchanges deal in several commodities, some just deal in one commodity. No exchange deals in all commodities. Consult the CRB Commodities Yearbook (below) to find out which exchange(s) lists your commodity.
For a more complete list of world-wide exchanges, see the Rutger's University Libraries Stock and Commodities Exchange list.
- CME Group
- ICE (IntercontinentalExchange): Global Commodity Markets
- Tokyo Commodity Exchange
Commodity prices, commodity trade data & other statistics
BP Statistical Review of World Energy (BP Global)
Consumption, reserves, prices and more for oil, gas, coal, nuclear energy, and hydroelectric energy).
Commodity Trade and Price Trends (print)
World Bank. Time series for prices and trade data for all types of commodities.
Commodity Trade Statistics Database
Part of UNdata. Data from 1962 and 140+ countries.
CRB Commodity Yearbook
Library has print: 1940-1984 and print: 1985-present; plus the 2004 edition is available electronically. Production and prices for all types of commodities. Also notes sources of data.
International Trade Statistics Yearbook (print)
UN. Covers all commodities with data by country and by commodity (uses SITC codes)
Statistics and market reports on many commodities by country, region or for the whole world. Also includes information on imports/exports, consumption/production, reserves. Data from 1977 onward is available.
S&P Capital IQ
Go to Companies > Commodities to access current and recent historical prices for traded commoditites. Note: You will need to be on campus when you create your S&P Capital IQ account, but you can access it remotely once you've completed that step.
Thomson Reuter Eikon + Datastream
Both the Eikon and the Datastream portions of this database provide detailed commodity data ranging from pricing to futures.
"Commodity Price Statistics provide monthly free-market prices and price indices starting in January 1960 for selected commodities that concern commodity-dependant countries. Price indices are provided for commodity groups (including food, tropical beverages, vegetable oilseeds and oils, agricultural raw materials, minerals, ores and metals), and for all groups in current dollars and SDRs."
UNCTAD Commodity Yearbook (print)
UN trade, production/consumption, principal producers for all commodities). Tables from the 2003 edition covering 1970-2000 are available online. Editions from 1988 and later include a Commodity Prices Annex. Also see: UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics [print]
Also try business sections of daily newspapers for selected commodity prices. Note that our PressReader database has the page images of many papers from around the world, including the North America, Asia, and Europe editions of the Wall Street Journal. Since tables of commodity prices are rarely included in regular "text-only" databases, getting access to the page image of the newspapers makes it easier to find such information.
This is just a selection of resource-specific sources. In general, look for governmental and inter-governmental agencies that are responsible for specific types of resources.
- Coal Information: IEA
- Energy Statistics of OECD Countries
- FAO Yearbook of Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
- FAO Yearbook of Forest Products
- USGS Minerals Yearbook (more from the USGS)
- Mining/Materials: Natural Resources Canada
- Natural Gas Information: IEA via the OECD
- Oil Information: IEA via the OECD
If you are looking for truly historical data, here is an interesting source:
Medieval and Early Modern Data Bank (historical currency data and prices of a select few commodities)
In addition to the following Federal government links, try looking for information on the Provincial government websites (i.e., for Cod, try Newfoundland or another Atlantic province; for Western Red Cedar, try the BC government website):
Includes landings from 1972 to the present and other useful publications
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: Office of the Chief Economist
Research and analysis
Natural Resources Canada
Information on forests, energy, minerals and metals
Trade Data Online
Canada & US trade with other countries
Search relevant US government agencies to find data and other analytical products on your commodity group
Energy Information Administration
Data on coal, natural gas, electricity, petroleum and other energy sources
Foreign Trade Statistics
US Census Bureau
Interactive Tariff and Trade Database
US International Trade Commission
Data and other information on ocean fisheries - includes Fishery market news, which has historical prices from the Fulton Fish Market from 1987 onward, as well as other fish markets in the US and abroad
- Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) Online: includes Commodities & Products pages and Data & Analysis
- USDA - Data and Statistics: data and other information on US crops, livestock and forests
USGS Minerals Information
Data on minerals, metals, stone, clay, glass, and concrete
- FAO (agricultural products and fisheries information - includes FAOSTAT, FIGIS, Globefish and other databases)
- Statistics Division (includes COMTRADE - commodity trading statistics database - and other publications)
- UNCTAD (international trade and development information - see especially Infocomm. Also includes Handbook of Statistics, UNCTAD Trade Analysis Branch (TAB), and Foreign Direct Investment Database)