Steak and Eggs -- Oh My
Breakfast connoisseurs may soon experience price shock as the price of young cattle and fresh eggs fly sky high. A shortage of feeder cattle, which are steers and heifers ready to move into feedlots, and the tendency of ranchers to hang onto their "feeder" inventory, could drive beef prices even higher in the near future. Lower corn prices provide incentives to cattle feeders to keep their animals and make larger profits, restricting market-ready beef.
With the US economy showing signs of improvement, such as higher wages, home prices, and a hot stock market, more consumers are rushing out to buy beef and keep demand sizzling.
Though egg demand has firmed slowly during the past few years, the factor driving prices up has been the recent large outbreak of bird flu. Avian flu has already taken the lives of 40 million birds and could climb even higher due to the fact that the primary egg producing state, Iowa, has 68 probable cases of the epidemic. On fears of a shortage, prices for wholesale eggs have nearly doubled to over $2.00 per dozen.
Fortunately, not all breakfast foods are rising; coffee, cereals, and bacon are down this year.
Greece and China Dominate Commodity Concerns
International geopolitical stories fueled wild swings in currency markets, energy prices, and international equities as speculators try to interpret two looming mysteries.
First, the Greek financial crisis seems to be growing toward a climax as officials from Greece and Germany continue to debate about when and how Greece will fund a 300 million Euro payment due on June 5th. That payment represents the tip of an iceberg of larger payments owed to Greece's creditors in coming months. The ruling party of Greece is unable to explain where the money will come from as the population is unwilling to reduce pension and entitlement payments or accept higher taxes.
Another worry catching the attention of analysts is that China continues to amass military equipment on the Spratly Islands, a disputed island chain just west of the Philippines. Despite protests by its neighbors and the United States, China has continued to build an island on the South China Sea in an effort to provide a base for naval vessels and an aircraft carrier. China's ultimate goals are unknown, but many fear that its military expansion could lead to a war in the Pacific.
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