Last week, I wrote of the march upward in coal prices. And this week saw further huge gains as Richards Bay South African coal hit $144 (up 5.5%), Australian Newcastle coal hit $162.61 (up 1.5%), and ARA European coal hit $185.53 per ton (up 4.6%). As the Northern Hemisphere begins to turn the air conditioners on, it will be interesting to see if records reach $200 per ton in the months ahead, closer to the value of coal’s fossil fuel competitors.
Oil prices are clearly changing behavior in the US. A couple of notable news pieces are worth mentioning. So far, 2008 is showing a 60+% increase in the sale of manual lawn mowers that use no fuel (though they are still less than 10% of the lawn mower market) and a big acceleration in sales of electric lawn mowers as well (predecessors of the electric vehicles coming out in 2010). The other piece of information is Ford’s postponement of its new F-Series truck launch by a couple of months and cutting more jobs as it sees the auto market shrinking dramatically in 2008.