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By Sumit Roy

Just six of the 22 major commodities appreciated last year.

The past year was a mixed bag for commodities investors. On the one hand, most commodities fell. Of the 22 major commodities we follow, a mere six registered gains in 2011. On the other hand, investor favorites — gold and oil — both managed to put in very solid advances in the year.

Indeed, Brent crude oil took the top spot for the year, with a 13.3 percent gain, while gold took the third spot, with a 10.1 percent increase.

Even West Texas Intermediate (WTI) finished with a respectable 8.2 percent gain as a year-end surge in the oil benchmark helped it make up for infrastructure-bottleneck-related underperformance earlier in 2011.

It’s also worth noting that many commodities finished 2010 at elevated levels after having risen swiftly off the lows following the 2008/2009 financial crisis and global recession. In that context, the poor performance in 2011 can be seen as a correction in a larger uptrend rather than a trend itself.

2011 Commodity Performance (Grouped By Sector)

Commodity Price at end of 2010 Price at end of 2011 Change for the year
Brent 94.75 107.38 13.33%
Live Cattle 107.9 121.45 12.56%
Gold 1420.78 1563.7 10.06%
WTI 91.38 98.83 8.15%
Lean Hogs 79.75 84.3 5.71%
Corn 629 646.5 2.78%
Coffee 240.5 226.85 -5.68%
Silver 30.92 27.84 -9.96%
Soybeans 1393.75 1198.5 -14.01%
Wheat 794.25 652.75 -17.82%
Palladium 801.75 655.25 -18.27%
Aluminum 2460.75 1994.5 -18.95%
Platinum 1770.25 1401 -20.86%
Lead 2563.5 2011 -21.55%
Copper 444.7 343.6 -22.73%
Nickel 24708 18724 -24.22%
Zinc 2444 1827.25 -25.24%
Sugar 32.12 23.3 -27.46%
Tin 26920 19148 -28.87%
Cocoa 3035 2109 -30.51%
NG 4.41 2.99 -32.20%
Cotton 144.81 91.8 -36.61%

2011 Commodity Performance (Ranked)

Rank Commodity Performance
1 Brent 13.33%
2 Live Cattle 12.56%
3 Gold 10.06%
4 WTI 8.15%
5 Lean Hogs 5.71%
6 Corn 2.78%
7 Coffee -5.68%
8 Silver -9.96%
9 Soybeans -14.01%
10 Wheat -17.82%
11 Palladium -18.27%
12 Aluminum -18.95%
13 Platinum -20.86%
14 Lead -21.55%
15 Copper -22.73%
16 Nickel -24.22%
17 Zinc -25.24%
18 Sugar -27.46%
19 Tin -28.87%
20 Cocoa -30.51%
21 NG -32.20%
22 Cotton -36.61%
Source: 2011 Commodities Report Card: Brent And Gold The Bright Spots In An Otherwise Dismal Year