The lumber market roared near a three-month high this week as wildfires threatened forests and sawmills in British Columbia. There are nearly 400 wildfires ablaze in the Canadian province which is one of the world’s largest exporters of softwood lumber.
Lumber futures, traded in Chicago, neared $395 per thousand board feet, the highest price since late April, when the market exploded on threats of a trade war between Canada and the United States.
At present, the fires are expanding, resulting in evacuations of nearly 40,000 residents and closures of sawmills in the area.
Here in the United States, there has been strong demand for new construction, which means that this threat to 2x4 supplies could be coming at a bad time for U.S. builders.
Corn and Bean Markets in a Whirlwind
Corn and soybean futures had a stormy week as producers, traders, and end users tried to track the weather and growing conditions across the country. Both crops are at a critical point in the growing season when high temperatures or dry weather can threaten yields.
Uncertainty about forecasts is causing the futures to shift into a so-called “weather market” that vacillates with every update.
As of midday Friday, markets were dropping due to overnight rains, pulling December corn futures down to $3.97 and November beans to $10.20 per bushel.
Gold and Silver Boom as Dollar Fades
Precious metals rose to a three-week high on Friday, climbing for six straight trading sessions as the U.S. dollar fell to a one-year low.
Investors are fleeing the U.S. dollar and favoring metals after this week’s turmoil in Washington D.C. cast doubts on the GOP’s ability to pass wide-sweeping legislation this year. Market watchers had been hoping that Republicans could reach a deal on health care and then pass tax reform that could stimulate the U.S. economy, but the political impasse in the Senate and increasing pressures on the Trump White House are dashing those hopes.
Investors prefer precious metals in times of trouble and have been buying gold and silver over the past two weeks after those markets hit bargain levels in early July.
As of midday Friday, gold was worth $1253 and silver sold for 16.45 an ounce.