Residents of New England braced themselves this weekend for what is predicted to be a huge – and possibly historic – blizzard.
The storm is forecast to dump 1 to 3 feet of snow from New York City to Boston and beyond. But even before a single snowflake fell on Friday, schools in many Northeastern cities were cancelled. Commercial airlines scratched more than 3,700 flights through Saturday, and the disruptions are expected to ripple across the nation.
Meteorologists say wind gusts could reach 75 miles per hour. And residents are preparing for widespread power failures and flooding in coastal areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy in October.
Against that backdrop, the Agriculture Department did a little forecasting of its own Friday, when it released its latest estimates on global and domestic supply and demand.
With the 2012 row crops already in the bin, the report focused primarily on grain supplies.
U.S. corn ending stocks moved slightly higher to 632 million bushels as export demand fell-off. The increase over last month still leaves corn at one of the tightest stocks-to-use ratios in the past few years. The increased supplies pushed the season average price estimate lower by 20 cents to $6.75 to $7.65 per bushel. As we move closer to the start of the 2013 growing season, private analysts note there is still little room for a crop shortfall in the northern hemisphere.
Domestic soybean ending stocks also remain tight with USDA officials moving estimates down to 125 million bushels. Despite the reduction, some private analysts judge world stocks to be adequate as they anticipate a record South American crop. After weighing all the factors, USDA increased its season average price estimate by a nickel to $13.55 to $15.05 per bushel.
And as supplies decline U.S. wheat ending stocks were pulled slightly lower to 691 million bushels. As more wheat is being used as feed and exports continue on track the market is having difficulty breaking the $8 barrier. USDA prognosticators disagree and moved the average season price estimate up 10 cents to $7.70 to $8.10 per bushel.
Grain markets appear to have already anticipated the supply figures as wheat and corn rallied a few pennies on the news. Nearby soybean prices, however, declined about 15 cents in the wake of Friday’s report.