By the Numbers

Best and Worst Commodities of the Decade

Best & Worst of the Decade

As the decade moves towards its close, CNBC is running a series on the best and worst stocks, commodities, and other asset classes over the past ten years. 

During yesterday's post, CNBC's By the Numbers highlighted the best and worst stocks of the decade (click here to see the post).  Today, we look at commodities and their performance since December 30, 1999.

Although most commodities were on a steady upward trend from 2002 to late 2006, it was not until 2007 and mid-2008 that the rally intensified, as depicted on the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI), a measure of a basket of commodities.

Crude oil, for example, hit a record intraday high of $147 per barrel on July 2008, nearly tripling in price from levels in mid-January 2007.

The rapid rise in commodity prices was felt around the world during this period, with protests erupting due to significant increases in food prices.  Most of the gains, however, were quickly evaporated as the financial crisis sent shock wages around the globe, bringing down commodity prices to their lowest levels since January 2005.

By the end of 2009, crude oil traded under $40, falling  over 260% from its highest level in 2007.

Since the March 9 lows, increased risk appetite among investors, along with a devalued dollar, helped commodity prices recover some of the losses during the previous year.

In the past decade, the best performing commodity has been sugar, posting a gain of 316% (In 2009 alone, sugar futures are up 99%).  The second best performing commodity of the decade has been cocoa, with a gain of 288%.

On the contrary, palladium futures are down the most in the past ten years, with a loss of  nearly 19%.

The table below highlights the performance of some of the major commodities in the past ten years and since the March lows. 

Keep coming back to CNBC by the Numbers for more Best and Worst of the Decade.

Comments?  Send them to