Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
The government announced this week that the federal budget deficit for 2003 will hit a record $374.2 billion. That's more than double last year's imbalance of some $157.8 billion. Analysts cited the war in Iraq, a new round of tax cuts, and the weak economy for the record shortfall.
That news was followed by a gloomy outlook on the future. The closely watched index of leading indicators fell in September for the first time in six months. Still, new claims for jobless benefits dipped last week in a sign that companies are easing the pace of layoffs.
In the country, the trends are decidedly more upbeat, as historical harvest time price pressures have not materialized.
With the markets entering their third week of lively activity the harvest pushes ahead.
Nearly all of the soybeans have been hauled in with 74% out of the field.
As the bins continue to fill, 56% of the corn has been harvested.
And with work still in the early stages, cotton producers sent 35% of the coarse fiber to the press.
In the pits, grain contracts remain in a state of nervous flux.
Nearby soybean contracts passed the $7.50 resistance level on Thursday. As $8.00 appears to be less of a mirage and more of a possibility, the market, again, struck limit-up on several trading days. The phenomenon continues in spite of growing world supply and tighter domestic stocks.
Meanwhile at the Mercantile Exchange, traders dealt with tighter domestic beef supplies. As the ban on Canadian live cattle hits the middle of its fifth month, fed cattle briefly passed the $1.10 mark. Agricultural officials on both sides of the border appear to be moving towards an agreement but a quick resolution to the problem is not expected.