Crude oil had its biggest one-week price move since 2008, rising as much as $13.70 per barrel by Thursday (+15%), reaching $103.41. The large swings came on the heels of news out of Libya, where last week's protest evolved into an open revolution against Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya since taking power in a 1969 military coup. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, where political unrest has had little direct impact on the world's oil supply, Libya is the 10th-largest oil exporter in the world, selling more oil to the global market than Iraq, Nigeria and Canada.
With Libya's dictator poised to fall, analysts are closely watching other key governments in the Middle East for signs of instability. Energy markets participants have been focusing on those nations with high oil production and large numbers of unhappy citizens, like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, who together produce 22% of the world's oil each day.
Grain markets fell hard midweek, with wheat and soybeans hitting two-month lows at $7.23 and $12.84, respectively. The grains sold off as traders focused on better weather and large crops in Brazil and China, two major global grain producers.
By Friday, the grain markets were back at the races, drawing strength from strong U.S. grain exports and a USDA summit that reminded market participants that there is little grain in surplus this year. Corn and soybean oil, which are used to produce the biofuels ethanol and biodiesel, were especially strong on Friday as biofuel producers began to calculate profits they could capture given the high energy prices.
As of midday Friday, corn for March delivery was trading near $7.15 per bushel, March soybeans were at $13.70/bu, March wheat was at $785/bu, and March soybean oil was worth 57 cents per pound.
Opinions are solely the writer's. Alex Breitinger is commodities broker with Breitinger & Sons LLC, a commodity futures brokerage firm in Valparaiso, Ind. He can be reached at (800) 411-3888 or indianafutures.com. This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.