Last Updated: Mon, Mar 25, 2013 04:33 hrs

How have commodities fared over the past financial year? Gold, in particular, has been much studied of late. It has been held responsible for India's problematic current account deficit. As Table 1 shows, gold prices steadily increased for the first half of the financial year but are showing unmistakable signs of coming off their historic bull run in the time since then. The effect on the fiscal deficit depends on whether lower prices stimulate enough buying by Indians to offset the lower cost.

The question of the oil bill has also bothered policy makers. After a swift decline in the first quarter of the current financial year, the oil price made up the difference, as Table 2 shows, pushed partly by worries about war in West Asia. Since then, oil prices have remained largely static, though there are recent signs of a decline. In Table 3, it can be seen that natural gas, however, has shown an increase through 2012-13, and absent a sudden supply boost from stalled oil field production, is expected to continue to do so.

Iron ore saw a recovery in international prices halfway through the financial year, as Table 4 lays out, reflecting the sudden increase in industrial activity in China, following its extension of government stimulus. In India, as manufacturing continued to slow, the iron ore index showed no such resilience. Metal prices internationally, too, saw a bounce at the same time as those of iron ore but did not retain their buoyancy subsequently, as Table 5 reveals.

What of wheat? Prices internationally went up in the middle of the financial year to a lengthy spell at higher levels, which came down only a few months ago, as Table 6 shows. But domestically, that international price softening hasn't happened, according to Table 7.

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