As Americans enjoyed the Independence Day holiday last weekend, they likely noticed lower gasoline prices as they fueled up their cars and boats.
US refineries have been running near full speed for months, making more gasoline than drivers are using. This led to all-time high gasoline stockpiles, nearly 10% higher than last year. Even if refineries slow down, some analysts expect that prices could stay lower for the foreseeable future as crude oil stockpiles are at record high levels as well.
Gasoline futures, which represent wholesale prices at the New York harbor, without taxes or other costs included, stood Friday at a four-month low of $1.36 per gallon, down 30 cents since mid-May.
Some drivers may not reap this full discount, as gasoline is not easily transported. This factor can create local aberrations in pricing, keeping costs higher in areas with tighter supplies.
Rains Sink Soybeans
Soybean prices plummeted by $1.10 per bushel during the week as much-needed rains fell across the Midwest. Traders grew wary of bets on crop shortages while farmers got more confident that they'd grow hearty soybean crops this year, causing both camps to sell aggressively this week.
By midday Friday, prices for July soybeans stood at $10.80, down sharply from recent highs over $12.00.
Silver Bullets Higher
Silver's meteoric rise continued this week, topping out over $21 per ounce.
Prices exploded after the UK voted to leave the European Union, but the rally has been sustained as buyers rush to the metal on additional news of economic and political uncertainty. Last weekend, terrorist attacks on Turkey's main airport killed 45 people, underscoring the political instability in the Middle East. In times of turmoil, investors frequently favor hard assets.
Gold and silver dealers have noted a sharp increase in retail business, as people flock into stores both to buy and sell coins and bars. Large-scale investors have been more active as well, with trading volumes on the silver futures market nearing multiyear highs this week.
By the end of the week, profit-taking knocked the market back as low as $19.40, a warning that silver trading can be both profitable and treacherous.