by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | April 21, 2011
Carestream Health said Thursday it would raise the price for medical, dental and industrial X-ray film stock by up to 50 percent in some regions of the world, in the third price hike in less than a year.
The Rochester, N.Y.-based company cited rocketing prices of commodities, such as silver and oil, which are near record highs. The price of silver, used to make the emulsion layers in the film stock, has risen 154 percent over the last 12 months. And oil, used to make the polyester in the film and to transport it, has soared 30 percent in the past year, Carestream said.
The exact price increase will vary by region. When reached by DOTmed News about the effect on U.S. prices, Carestream said it did not have more information to share at this time.
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Carestream previously announced
price hikes of up to 25 percent in December and by "double digit"
percentages in August. The August hike was the company's first general price increase in nearly three years.
The front-month contract for silver hit a three-decade-high Thursday, at around $46 a troy ounce, short of the 1980 record of $50.36, when William Herbert Hunt and Nelson Bunker Hunt notoriously tried to squeeze the silver market. In fact, although many analysts believe inflation fears are driving investors to buy precious metals, silver's stupendous gains have led others to wonder if there's a similar conspiracy afoot.
"It is impossible to say if there is even a grain of truth in any of these tales. While some traders are taking them seriously, others believe the rise in prices is perfectly well explained by very strong, inelastic industrial demand plus extremely high retail demand in the U.S., India and China," Jack Farchy with the Financial Times wrote Thursday.
Crude oil for June delivery traded just over $111 a barrel, with some analysts predicting it would hit $120 before dropping back down. Surging demand from China, the conflict in Libya and the ongoing cleanup of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have all led to strains on the market, analysts say.
Inevitably, some worry that oil's gains point to plots, too. Earlier this week, the Obama administration said it was creating a working group to figure out if oil futures were being driven up by illegal market manipulation.