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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
Search 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. Look closely at these subject heading lists to find relevant books. 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 Complete
- Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA)
- Business Source Complete
- Canadian Newsstream
- Canadian Research Index
- CBCA Complete
- LexisNexis (International news and industry publications.)
Definitions & codes
Commodity Indexes for the Standard International Trade Classification, Revision (SITC) 3. (print)
UN commodity codes. Find your commodity and get the code. This guide also helps to indicate the broader category to which your commodity belongs.
The Language of Commodities: A Commodity Glossary (print)
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 (print)
- The World's Futures & Options Markets (print)
Guides to information sources
Primary Commodity Markets and Models: An International Bibliography (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
- Commodity Floor Brokers and Traders Association
- Futures & Options Association (UK)
- 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
Commodities Price Locator (print): This publication, though dated, is still a useful place to start, as it covers over 150 publications that regularly report commodity prices. Details of the publications are also provided. About one third of these sources are government publications and may now be available on the web; others may be available through LexisNexis.
Look at the website of the commodity exchange where the commodity is traded for current prices.
Sharelinks Global Stock Market Quotes
(go to the page and scroll down to Commodities and Futures there are two links to choose from depending upon your commodity)
(includes the monthly Commodity Price Bulletin, covering the last 12 months for many commodities, as well as a statistical database)
Business sections of daily newspapers provide selected commodity prices. Note that our PressReader database has the page images of many papers from around the world, including the 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.
Check some of the resource-specific sources in the Historical prices section below as many of them also provide current prices.
Historical prices, trade data and other statistics
Statistics and other information on all commodities or one commodity group (note: Number of commodities listed differ in each of these sources, as does the specificity of the listing. It is best to check several of them for your commodity.)
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.
Economist Intelligence Unit:
Start with their ViewsWire product and look for a link to Commodity Analysis.
International Trade Statistics Yearbook (print)
UN. Covers all commodities with data by country and by commodity (uses SITC codes)
Passport (formerly known as the Global Market Information Database)
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.
"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. 1988 edition and later has Commodity prices Annex.
World Trade Annual (print)
UN. Trade data organized by SITC code.
Resource-specific sources (a selection, more are available, search the catalogue by keyword to find them - e.g.. forest products and statistics; cotton and statistics. Some of these also have current price information. Most of these are periodic publications. Current issues are usually in the Bennett Reference Collection and past issues are in the Bennett stacks. By using both current and past issues, you can get both historical and current information):
- Canadian Minerals Yearbook (print; also available on the web)
- Coal Information (print)
- Energy Statistics of OECD Countries 2001-2002 (print)
- FAO Yearbook Fisheries. (print)
- FAO Yearbook of Forest Products. (print)
- Kitco (current & historical prices for precious metals)
- Minerals Yearbook (USGS) (print)
- Natural Gas Information (print)
- Oil Information 2004 (print)
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)
- see the Primary Industries section of the Index of Downloadable Statistics Canada publications for items such as:
- Farm Product Price Index (Feb. 2001 - present)
- Livestock and aquaculture - publications
(socio-economic time series data)
Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Indexes
(use the customized query form to get data. Note that not all years are available for all commodities. See also the Consumer Price Index which produces monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services and also provides average retail prices for a few select commodities from 1980-present)
(find data and other analytical products on your commodity group)
Energy Information Administration
(data on coal, natural gas, electricity, petroleum and other energy sources)
(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)
- FAS Online (includes commodities pages, Current World Production, Market and Trade Reports
- USDA - Data and Statistics (data and other information on crops, livestock and forests)
USGS Minerals Information
(minerals, metals, stone, clay, glass, and concrete )
(check your commodity group under Activities or use the EUROSTAT statistical databases)
(includes IMF Primary Commodity Prices data)
OECD: Start with the Statistics section of OECD iLibrary
- 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)
World Trade Organization
(look for your commodity under Trade Topics/Goods, look at Trade Statistics, browse for publications or search their bibliography for WTO-related information on your topic in other publicatons)
In addition to the links below, search Google for information on your commodity.
- Rutger's University Libraries Stock and Commodities Exchanges Guide
- Kitco links (lots of information about the precious metals industry)
- Turtle Trader Historical Futures Data (selected commodities from all commodity groups. Daily prices from the 1970's. Files are in .zip format - you download and can import into Excel or other spreadsheets).
Student guides and style guides
- SFU Library's guides to APA, MLA and Chicago/Turabian styles (include information on citing electronic sources)
- SFU Library guides to APA for Business Sources and to Citing Statistics
- APA Style.org (APA website with special tips for electronic citation and a good FAQ for unusual citations)
- BU guide to citation in the Harvard Style (This style guide by Bournemouth University is based on British Standards 5605 and is similar to APA style)