Stocks Sickened by COVID Concerns
The three most active stock market indexes (the Dow, NASDAQ, and the S&P 500) continued their upward rally last week until Thursday morning, at which point they began an extraordinary one-day tumble giving up half their massive climb which began in mid-May.
The Dow Jones futures contract, for example crashed over 1,800 points in one fell swoop as investors and speculators heard statistics of a surge in infections in Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas. Their fears that a “second wave” of the virus could slow any recovery or even lead to a worsening recession as a return to further shutdowns and unemployment could follow.
A gloomy economic assessment by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell added fuel to the fire as longer-term effects of recent lockdowns became appreciated and the short-term outlook became bleaker as well. Powell cautioned that millions of workers may never be able to return to their former jobs, dampening hopes that a V-shaped recovery may have begun.
A small bounce Friday morning placed the Dow around 25,400 and the June S&P futures contract at about 3,025.
Grain Exports Rising
Grain prices firmed this week on expectations of increasing sales to foreign buyers. The United States is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of corn, soybeans, and wheat, but prices are still heavily dependent on foreign countries consuming U.S. production.
As global trade increases in the wake of the coronavirus, sales are picking up, especially to China. This helped boost corn and soybean prices this week, with both trading near two-month highs.
Even as sales rise, the U.S. is likely going to be awash in grain at harvest this year, as crops are looking healthy thus far. In the coming weeks, prices will be driven by the weather, as June and July weather can make or break the crops. As of Friday morning, December corn traded for $3.43 per bushel, and November soybeans fetched $8.78 per bushel.
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