Commodity Futures File by Alex Breitinger en-us Sugar Rushes Higher on Global Shortfall Sugar prices exploded this week, pushing over 23 cents per pound, the highest level in over four years. Prices have more than doubled during the last year as a global sugar shortfall looms after two years of disappointing harvests. Sugar is produced around the world, extracted from sugarcane in tropical climates and sugar beets in higher latitudes, but almost half of all sugar production comes from just three countries: Brazil, India, and Thailand. All three nations’ sugarcane... Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:09:26 -0400 Gasoline Explodes after Pipe Leak Gasoline prices spiked this week after the Colonial Pipeline was shut down, closing off nearly 40% of the gasoline supply to 13 states running from Alabama to New York. The leaking pipeline, which serves over 50 million Americans, may not be fully functional until next week, which is prompting fears of gasoline shortages on the East Coast. Gasoline futures, which represent the price of the fuel at a major hub in the New York harbor, without taxes and other costs included, jumped by more... Fri, 16 Sep 2016 13:37:20 -0400 Oil Swings on Supply Shocks Crude oil staged a huge rally throughout the week as OPEC members talked again about cutting production to prop prices upward toward $60 per barrel. The oil cartel has been unsuccessful thus far, but collaboration between its members could shock the global oil market higher. The U.S. Department of Energy fueled the run up by reporting on Thursday morning that U.S. petroleum inventories unexpectedly tumbled by more than 14 million barrels, which helped boost prices to $47.75 per... Fri, 09 Sep 2016 15:31:49 -0400 Housing Hoists Lumber Higher Sales of new homes exploded last month to the highest level since 2007. The US Census Bureau estimated that a seasonally-adjusted 654,000 new homes sold in July, a jump of over 30% in the last year. More active homebuyers have begun cutting into the inventories for existing homes, pushing prices higher across the board and incentivizing construction crews to hammer out more new homes to meet demand. This wave of construction has helped to boost lumber prices, which are up by more than a... Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:31:00 -0400 Gasoline Revs Up In just over a week, gas prices have exploded more than 20 cents per gallon higher, a staggering move that could soon hit drivers at the pump. Gasoline is becoming more expensive as the overwhelming glut of oil and gasoline in the U.S. wanes in the face of higher demand. The U.S. economy continues to show signs of strength, which should allow Americans to travel more and boost industrial demand for energy. Meanwhile, OPEC nations and Russia are continuing to suggest that they may work... Fri, 19 Aug 2016 14:11:48 -0400 Corn & Bean Crops Shatter Records The USDA shocked grain markets Friday with its newest outlook for the corn and soybeans crops that are getting ready to be harvested. The government agency is now projecting record-breaking yields for corn at 175.1 bushels per acre and soybeans at 48.9 bushels per acre. If these projections come true this fall, the corn and soybean crops will be the largest in US history, adding to the global surplus of grain. While record yields are a point of pride for the agricultural industry, the... Fri, 12 Aug 2016 13:22:53 -0400 Natural Gas Rises Natural gas sprang to life this week, jumping up by 21 cents on Thursday. The increase in natural gas stockpiles was only 17 billion cubic feet, which is the smallest increase in summertime for the last ten years. One of the reasons for the small increase was the fact that the eastern seaboard has been having unusually hot weather. More people have been running their air conditioners to combat the heat, so more natural gas is being used to power the AC. The reduced stockpile has some... Fri, 29 Jul 2016 16:54:35 -0400 Bad Week in Corn and Beans Farmers and traders were anxious about the "heat dome" that hit the Midwest earlier this week. Both crops are at a critical stage, and high temperatures now can drastically reduce crop yields. Even though one might expect the prices for corn and beans to rise due to the heat, the opposite occurred. The drop was caused by a much shorter heat wave than meteorologists originally forecasted, combined with forecasts for less extreme temperatures and more rainfall in the coming weeks. The "threat"... Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:08:29 -0400 Bargain Barbecue Pork prices are dropping due to record pork and poultry production this year, bringing backyard barbecues to the cheapest level of the summer. While low prices are making it difficult for livestock producers to turn a profit, they are still benefitting from low corn prices, near $3.55 per bushel on Friday. It appears that pork prices could keep falling. Hogs are already cheap at 80 cents per pound, but futures markets are priced under 60 cents by December, which means that Christmas... Fri, 15 Jul 2016 13:24:41 -0400 Gasoline Market Gutted 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... Fri, 08 Jul 2016 14:27:18 -0400 Silver Sparkles, Gold Booms In a major move akin to the past inflationary displays, the price of gold and silver exploded this week as investors, hedgers, and speculators rushed to jump on the precious metals train as prices blew over the highs of last year. Concerns about political and financial stability dominated the news after the British referendum to exit from the European Union. There has also been growing doubt that near-zero and negative interest rates will solve the problems of massive unfunded government... Fri, 01 Jul 2016 13:53:05 -0400 'Brexit' Reaches Breaking Point The United Kingdom could be breaking away from the European Union in the near future, depending on the outcome of a vote next week. The June 23 referendum could set the stage for a British exit, or "Brexit," from the EU, putting strain on their respective economies and creating political turmoil on both sides of the English Channel. Earlier this week, it appeared increasingly likely that the British citizens were going to vote to leave the EU, which was causing investors to flee out of... Fri, 17 Jun 2016 13:09:58 -0400 Florida's OJ not so Sunny Orange juice futures hit a four-year high after Tropical Storm Colin tore across Florida. June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, and three named storms have already struck this year, worrying citrus growers in America's most hurricane-prone state. This week, Colin dumped heavy rains on citrus groves, damaging fruit and threatening to further crimp Florida's crop. Florida's groves are already being devastated by a tree-killing disease, and the USDA projects this year's... Fri, 10 Jun 2016 13:36:20 -0400 Pork Gets Pricey Meat lovers may soon be wishing that they had stocked up on Memorial Day pork specials, as hog prices exploded to a 20-month high this week. Demand for pork has been rising recently as the summer grilling season begins, which helped boost prices by over 6% this week, proving that pigs can fly. Meanwhile, some investors swept into the hog market on a belief that prices typically bottom out near Memorial Day and rally through mid-July, adding to this week's buying frenzy. As of midday... Fri, 03 Jun 2016 14:14:11 -0400 Crude Rebounds to $50 Crude oil prices punched to the highest price since last October, hitting $50.21 per barrel on Thursday. Prices have nearly doubled since falling near $26 in February, rising as global oil production has slowed, especially due to output shortfalls in Canada, Libya, and Nigeria. US crude oil production has also been slowing recently and is down nearly 10% compared to this time last year. The drilling cutback and increasing refinery demand for the summer driving season have helped to cut into... Fri, 27 May 2016 13:17:40 -0400 Milk Turns Sour US milk futures contracts have collapsed to a six-year low as dairy farmers boost production amidst slowing consumption. Slowing Chinese demand, Russian bans on US milk, and Americans' preference for alternative drinks have left dairy farmers feeling sour. In addition to suffering through multi-year low prices for their product, dairy farmers are now facing rising feed costs. Since early April, milk futures prices have dropped 13% while corn and soybean prices have jumped by 11% and 17%,... Sun, 22 May 2016 18:21:05 -0400 Corn Planting Pressures Prices Corn farmers have been hard at work planting this year's crop, and now have over half of their acreage planted nationwide after this week's dry weather let them get into their fields. On average, those farmers are a full week ahead of schedule, putting downward pressure on corn prices. Early planting removes the annual threat of unplanted acres, but it also increases yields over the course of the growing season, which could boost the overall crop size. As a result, corn prices fell to a... Fri, 06 May 2016 18:29:34 -0400 Grains go for Elevator Ride Grain elevators full of corn, wheat, and soybeans had a wild week, making a quick price trip up and then back down again. Prices for the three major US commodity crops exploded to multi-month highs on Thursday as fears abounded that the South American corn and soybean crops could fall short of expectations. The US is still the largest producer of corn and soybeans in the world, but Brazil and Argentina are major exporters onto the global market, making their crops important as well. Over... Fri, 22 Apr 2016 17:01:02 -0400 Sour Outlook Boosts Orange Juice Prices 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... Fri, 08 Apr 2016 13:41:01 -0400 Crude Spurts Higher Oil gushed to $39 per barrel on Friday morning, the highest price in over three months. Prices gained after the International Energy Agency suggested that "black gold" may have bottomed out. The agency pointed to potential deals between major oil producers to cap production as a factor that could further boost prices. Gasoline has climbed alongside oil, gaining over thirty cents per gallon during the last month. Longer term, the global oil market is still oversupplied, which could cap... Fri, 11 Mar 2016 13:29:49 -0500