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.
Rising production in the United States has been a primary driver behind the global glut, as has falling demand as US cars are more efficient and burning less fuel. Despite falling oil prices, US drillers, OPEC nations and other producers like Russia and Mexico seem to be unwilling to reduce production.
Dropping oil prices filtered through to gasoline and diesel fuel futures as well, which fell over 15 cents per gallon this week.
Timber Falls with Home Sales
Housing data disappointed homebuilders this week as figures indicated slowing demand for new homes.
Lumber prices have been stagnant for much of the last year as the market waits for a change in the demand outlook. With the US housing market slowly coming back to life, lumber may need strong buying from foreign markets, which has been lackluster thus far, especially in China, where an economic slowdown is limiting new construction demand.
Despite these concerns, others are more optimistic about the future for lumber, especially after news came out this week that the US economy is growing at the fastest pace in over a decade. Should the burgeoning economy spill into the housing market, lumber prices could rise from Friday's price of $328 per thousand board feet.
Grain on the Ground
After harvesting record-sized corn and soybean crops this fall, US farmers are now facing a conundrum -- where to put the grain?
Most farmers have filled their on-farm storage silos to the brim and some are having trouble finding space at local grain elevators, which are overrun with grain as well, forcing them to lower prices they're willing to pay farmers.
This has led farmers to seek creative solutions, including enormous plastic storage bags, which are as long football field and hold over 10,000 bushels. Still others are resorting to simply storing the grain on the ground, which can put their harvest at risk of spoiling.
Longer-term, farmers are hoping for more demand and higher prices to help lift prices and soak up the extra grain.