Wheat prices pushed to three-month highs on Thursday as traders grew increasingly concerned that this year's global wheat harvest would fall short of expectations.
Severe drought across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas has resulted in the worst crop seen in the U.S. in 15 years. Germany and France, Europe's largest wheat producers, are also suffering from drought -- a fact that is doing little to alleviate pressure off of global wheat prices. The continued world weather problems and strong demand from Middle Eastern nations like Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq jumped prices for Chicago wheat by nearly $1 per bushel (+13 percent) this week.
The Chicago Board of Trade is home to the United States' largest wheat market, where producers, end-users and speculators meet to decide the price of soft red winter wheat.
The United States is the world's largest wheat exporter, especially after other leading producers like Australia and Russia had serious problems with last year's harvest due to extreme weather events. As of midday Friday, Chicago wheat for July delivery was trading near $8.10 per bushel.
Cattle corralled lower
Beef prices continued to work lower this week, dropping to five-month lows on Friday. In early April, live cattle futures hit an all-time high at $1.23 per pound, but poor demand has pulled prices back by $0.19 (-15 percent) to $1.04.
Cool, rainy weather across the Midwest has dampened enthusiasm for grilling, which has cut into demand for steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs. Furthermore, high gasoline prices have lightened wallets, forcing consumers to save by reducing meat purchases.
On Friday afternoon, after the cattle stop trading, the USDA will release its monthly Cattle on Feed report, which will update the market on the current supply of cattle across the United States.
Coffee prices have dropped sharply in recent weeks, falling from 14-year highs at $3.08 per pound. Since early May, prices plunged 50 cents per pound (-16 percent) as production forecasts for Brazil and http://www.rustcom.net/tracker/live/index.php?blog=1600Vietnam were raised. Coffee prices are often volatile, following weather developments in foreign nations, and some analysts warn that prices could rebound back over $3.00 per pound, as there is a shortage of high-quality beans worldwide. As of Friday morning, coffee for July delivery was trading near $2.60 per pound.