Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
Throw a rock this week and you'd likely hit a bull market somewhere. The equities markets are enjoying a nice run. Commodities from copper to soybeans are on the rise. Even the bond market saw a slight rebound at week's end.
Buttressing the bull run is a series of encouraging economic reports. America's trade deficit shrank in August, payrolls have begun expanding, and the nation's gross domestic product grew by nearly 6 percent in the second quarter.
That sort of news has helped push the Dow to a 52-week high, up nearly 30 percent from October 2002 levels.
But the real action of late has been in the commodities markets. There, the trade this week jumped on the hard numbers of the latest USDA crop report.
With the annual rite of harvest well underway, the government released its much-anticipated October crop report on Friday. For the most part, the markets appear to have factored in news from the combines, but the forecast is bullish for beans, but bearish for corn.
Despite drought conditions that set records in much of the grain belt this summer, the agriculture department predicts America's farmers will harvest 10.2 billion bushels of corn this year. That's up 3 percent from last month's projection, up 14 percent from last year and -- if realized -- would be the largest corn crop in history.
You won't be hearing about any records in the soybean fields, however. USDA now predicts growers will harvest 2.5 billion bushels of soybeans... down 7 percent from last month's estimate and 10 percent below last year.
Cotton producers are expected to harvest 17.6 million bales this fall... up 4 percent from last month's guess. Early reports indicate strong yields across key U.S. growing regions. Currently, about 25 percent of the U.S. crop has been harvested and half of the remaining cotton is said to be in good to excellent condition.
With the harvest of spring wheat completed, the government reports 2003 production will surpass 2.3 billion bushels... up 46 million bushels from the previous estimate. The national average spring wheat yield is nearly 40 bushels per acre -- the second highest on record -- bested only by 41.8 bushels per acre in 1992.