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Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014
Ruble Turns to Rubble
Posted Friday, December 19, at 3:35 PM
Russia's currency, the ruble, collapsed in value this week, falling to an all-time low against the US dollar. Over the last six months, the currency has lost more than half its value as Russia's economy slides into recession under the weight of international sanctions stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine...

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Corn Prices Sweeten
Posted Sunday, December 14, at 5:32 PM

As farmers harvested the largest corn crop in history this fall, prices fell to a five-year low, nearing $3.00 per bushel. Since then, bargain hunters swooped in, helping prices to bounce back, a welcome change for farmers. Buyers were emboldened by a USDA report this week that showed a tighter global supply picture, primarily due to increased demand from end users like ethanol producers and poultry feeders. ...

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China on the Rise
Posted Friday, December 5, at 2:20 PM

Global traders got another reminder this week that China is on the rise, as a new report from the International Monetary Fund showed that China's economy has surpassed the US by a metric known as purchasing power parity. Although not the primary model watched by economists, PPP adjusts for price differences between countries, essentially giving China credit for its cheaper cost of living...

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OPEC Swamps Crude Prices
Posted Friday, November 28, at 6:03 PM

Crude oil prices collapsed to a four-year low on Thanksgiving Day, dropping as low as $67.75 per barrel after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to leave production targets unchanged at their most recent meeting. Analysts had been expecting OPEC members, who produce about a third of the world's oil, to reduce their petroleum output in an effort to remove supply and stabilize prices...

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Drivers Warm to Cheap Gasoline
Posted Friday, November 21, at 12:05 PM

As motorists fuel up for their annual trip to grandmother's house, they're likely to be thankful for the cheapest gas in more than four years. With gasoline futures trading near $2.01 per gallon on Friday, nationwide prices at the pump (which include taxes, delivery costs, and other expenses) are well under $3.00 per gallon in most parts of the country...

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Cold Snap causes Flurry in Commodities
Posted Friday, November 14, at 2:48 PM

As many Americans are bunkering down while temperatures drop, commodities traders are watching markets heat up. Exceptionally cold temperatures, especially when they occur at unusual times, can cause rapid movements in a number of markets. Extreme weather can damage plants, affect livestock's appetites, and even halt trucks, trains, and barges...

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Dropping Oil Pressures Producers
Posted Friday, November 7, at 4:13 PM

Crude oil's collapse continued this week, with prices nearing $75 per barrel, the lowest level in over three years. Prices are dropping as US domestic oil production continues to expand and slowing global economies are reducing demand for petroleum...

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Low Gas Prices are a Treat
Posted Friday, October 31, at 2:40 PM

Gasoline prices are tumbling, scaring refiners, but giving a welcome treat to drivers. According to government data, many retail markets are seeing prices comfortably under $3.00 per gallon for the first time in almost four years. Reasons include record US oil production, infighting among Middle Eastern oil producers, improved fuel efficiency, and a typical dip in gasoline demand after the busy summer driving season...

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Lower Heating Costs Loom
Posted Friday, October 24, at 3:10 PM

Natural gas prices are nearing one-year lows as US production continues at a breakneck pace, building supplies ahead of winter. Last year's unusually cold and long winter drained US gas inventories to a ten-year low, which buoyed prices near $6.50 last February. ...

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What is Deflation?
Posted Friday, October 17, at 1:34 PM

During wild price swings many recall, understand, and fear inflation as an insidious threat to our buying power as the paper dollars in our wallets buy less and less as prices go up. But what happens if prices go down? Some economists fear that our economy, based heavily on debt, could implode much like it did during the Great Depression. ...

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Big Crops get Bigger
Posted Friday, October 3, at 5:15 PM

Corn prices dove to a five-year low this week, driven lower by heavy supplies of the grain. On Tuesday, the USDA released its quarterly grain stockpile report, showing a whopping 1.236 billion bushels of corn leftover from last year. Meanwhile, as farmers begin harvesting this year's crop, conditions are better than had been anticipated, indicating that this year's record-breaking crop is likely larger than previously thought, seemingly confirming an old trader's adage "big crops get bigger, small crops get smaller.". ...

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Scotland Sends British Pound Reeling
Posted Sunday, September 14, at 5:21 PM

The British currency, the pound sterling, has collapsed in recent weeks ahead of a vote that could separate Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom. Scotland has been joined with England for over 300 years, but recently there have been increasing calls for Scottish independence...

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Russia Sows Discord in Wheat Market
Posted Friday, August 29, at 1:12 PM

This week, tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated again, as Russian troops and tanks reportedly invaded Ukraine. While US military involvement still seems unlikely, analysts believe that the situation is shifting toward a full-blown war, which could destabilize both nations and limit their ability to produce and export numerous commodities, especially wheat...

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Housing Hoists Lumber Prices
Posted Friday, August 22, at 2:43 PM

A slew of shockingly good housing data shook US markets this week, especially lumber. Reports showed that construction of new homes is rising from the post-recession doldrums and that sales of existing homes increased for the fourth straight month. Lumber, which is closely tied to the construction industry, has been rising with the restrengthening housing market, reaching a five-month high Friday at $355 per thousand board feet. ...

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Corn Climbs, Finally!
Posted Friday, August 15, at 1:54 PM

After being hammered lower for nearly six months, corn prices finally staged a modest recovery this week, providing a much needed opportunity for farmers to sell some of this year's huge crop. Though no threats to production (draughts, flooding, insects, or plant diseases) were revealed, higher demand supported the rally in corn. ...

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OJ Prices Squeezed Lower
Posted Friday, August 8, at 2:53 PM

The cost of a balanced breakfast continues to get cheaper as orange juice prices plummet. US demand for orange juice has fallen to the lowest level in over a decade as consumers snub OJ for other beverages, dropping prices near the lowest level for the year...

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Hogs Grind Lower
Posted Friday, August 1, at 2:50 PM

A hog virus ravaged the pork industry over the last year, killing off piglets and driving prices to record highs, but the virus is largely under control and farmers have begun vamping up pork production again. Even though the national herd is far smaller than previous years, the animals are much larger, averaging nearly twenty pounds heavier than usual for this time of year. ...

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Cattle Stampede Higher
Posted Friday, July 25, at 11:24 AM

Cattle futures shot into all-time highs again this week, reaching $1.58 per pound on Thursday. Prices continue to rise because of a shortage of animals stemming from the multiyear drought in the Great Plains that destroyed herds and their food sources. Ranchers have been unable to restore the beef supply quickly, since it can take over two years to breed, raise, and fatten cattle before they are market ready...

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Downed Jet Fuels Commodities Rise
Posted Friday, July 18, at 1:09 PM

Midday Thursday, a Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. Initial fears that the plane had been shot down were supported by intelligence agencies, sparking concerns that the crash could signal a deepening of the conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists. As global investors processed the news, they sold off stocks and bought commodities that could be in short supply if sanctions or increased military conflict followed the plane crash...

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Cattle Market Slaughtered
Posted Friday, July 11, at 1:23 PM

After making an all-time high early Monday morning, cattle prices reversed sharply lower as cattlemen began bringing cattle to the market to capture record high prices. Meanwhile, traders cashed in on huge profits, after riding the market higher for months. As prices dropped, ranchers and traders seemed to succumb to herd behavior, with aggressive selling leading to even more selling...

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Commodity Futures File
Alex Breitinger
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Alex Breitinger, a 2009 graduate of DePauw University, is a commodity futures broker with Breitinger & Sons, LLC in Valparaiso. He can be reached at 800-411-FUTURES (3888) or online at www.indianafutures.com.
Hot topics
Ruble Turns to Rubble
(0 ~ 2:35 PM, Dec 19)

Corn Prices Sweeten
(0 ~ 4:32 PM, Dec 14)

China on the Rise
(0 ~ 1:20 PM, Dec 5)

OPEC Swamps Crude Prices
(0 ~ 5:03 PM, Nov 28)

Drivers Warm to Cheap Gasoline
(0 ~ 11:05 AM, Nov 21)