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Taming the wild commodities
Last year: Gasoline had a year of record highs and record lows, surging in the heat of the summer, falling 60% through the autumn, and landing at a 4-year low in December, to the delight of holiday travelers.

Meanwhile, other commodities were also on a cost roller coaster in tandem with the economy. During the summer, steel and iron prices surged more than 30%, prompting manufacturers to reevaluate their production processes or explore new manufacturing locales, while food business struggled with skyrocketing costs for grain and other supplies. But as the economic tide turned, the prices of many raw materials fell sharply, including non-precious metals, corn, and coffee.

This year: Gas prices may level off in 2009, analysts say, as oil supplies remain high relative to demand.

Several economists believe the dollar will fall against the euro and the yen in 2009, thanks to low interest rates and the extensive U.S. government borrowing that will be necessary to cover the costs of the 2008 bailout packages. For companies that do business overseas, a falling dollar increases costs, and the price of raw materials in the U.S. tends to move opposite the direction of the dollar, which means more price hikes may be looming for commodities. -Emily Maltby

NEXT: Struggling for buyers' dollars

LAST UPDATE: Jan 06 2009 | 6:06 PM ET
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