While most commodity prices have fallen off a complete cliff from their June and July peaks, spot prices for all forms of coal have held up reasonably well as of late.

Prices for North Appalachia, Central Appalachia, Illinois Basin, Uinta Basin and Powder River Basin coal are down, but coal has shown relative strength vs. oil, corn, wheat, urea and other essential commodities tied directly to global consumption

In fact, as of December 2008, Newcastle coal is up 10% for the year, Powder River Basin coal is up 21%, Colorado coal is up 143%, and Illinois Basin coal is up 143%. This compares with oil, which is down 45%; copper, down 55%; and iron ore, down 56%.

Why have coal prices fared so well? And what, if any, equity vehicles might one play to capture this strength?

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