Orange juice reached the highest level of the year, rising as concerns mount about Florida's orange crop. This year's harvest is expected to be the worst in more than 50 years as Florida battles a tree disease known as citrus greening.
The disease drains nutrients from the trees, causing them to drop premature fruit, and ultimately kills trees. There is no known cure, and over 80% of the state's trees are infected. Long-term, there is mounting concern that the disease could continue ravaging Florida's citrus industry, potentially knocking out 90% of America's orange juice production.
Frozen concentrated orange juice, the standard for futures traders, recently topped out near $1.50 per pound, the highest price since late December.
China Collapses Copper
The floor broke beneath copper prices on Thursday as rumors circulated that China, the world's largest consumer of the metal, will liquidate a substantial portion of its stockpiles.
Analysts believe that slowing construction and electronics manufacturing have reduced the demand for refined copper from those sectors, melting prices from $2.15 per pound to $2.05.
Copper is often seen as a barometer for the world economy, making it an indicator of what may come in the stock market.
Corn Market Firms
After slamming to a seven-month low at the end of March, corn prices climbed for seven consecutive trading days, recouping half of the market's recent losses.
Prices collapsed after a USDA report projected a sharp increase in corn acreage, but many farmers and traders are skeptical about the government's forecast.
Some farmers may still shift away from low-priced corn and plant more profitable soybeans, which could reduce overall corn acreage. Meanwhile, the corn is not in the ground yet, and there are concerns that much of the Corn Belt could be too wet to plant the crop quickly.
The market's quick drop under $3.50 per bushel encouraged bargain-hunting ethanol plants, livestock feeders, and investors to load up on cheap corn, as many expected the "price floor" of $3.50 to hold as it has on numerous occasions.
As of midday Friday, corn for delivery in May was trading for $3.62.