Did some charting on Finviz yesterday and came across this relative performance chart of the year's top futures gainers (year-to-date).
As you can see from the chart, cotton, palladium, and silver lead the performance YTD. We all know gold's been having a headline-grabbing year (+25%), but silver futures have handily outpaced the yellow metal (+71.5%).
Interesting to note that lumber is up 40% YTD, second only to top-performing cotton (+93%) in the soft commodities group. Lumber futures had a very poor showing in '06 - '08 as the housing bubble collapsed and the homebuilders fell on hard times. However, we saw a pickup in '09 and the rebound seems to have gathered steam all through 2010.
Natural gas futures were a bottom-dweller this year, down (-)27% YTD. There were a few other poor performers, but for the most part we see green on this chart, reflecting a year of strong commodity demand and QE (money printing) operations in the US.
As Jim Rogers has pointed out many times in recent interviews and talks, cheap money will only fuel advancing prices of in-demand commodities in the months and years ahead. Stay tuned for 2011.