Slowly, more and more economists are starting to see a brighter future for the U.S. economy. This week saw the release of a survey of more than 50 private economists who predict a third-quarter rise in U.S. gross domestic product of 4.5 percent. That's nearly a point higher than forecasts of a month ago.
There also are signs of a rebound in farm country. USDA analysts this week predicted net farm income for 2003 at $52.6 billion. That's substantially higher than last year's $35.3 billion and well above the 10-year average of $47.4 billion. The reason? Cash receipts for most farm commodities are higher, as are direct government payments to farmers.
Against that backdrop, USDA crop projections that, in some cases, were market-friendly, were issued this week.
Total U.S. soybean production is estimated at 2.64 billion bushels, down 8% from the August report. A persistent dry spell in the Midwest is being blamed for this second-largest decline in projected soybean production on record.
The corn crop is estimated at 9.94 billion bushels, down 1% from the August projection. But that still would be the second-largest crop on record. According to economists, the crop remains large despite the Midwestern drought because western states have enjoyed good weather.
The predicted decline in overall crop production failed to rally corn and wheat prices, but boosted soybean prices to contract highs on Friday.
Analysts predict a continued rally in soybeans based on some of the tightest global supplies in more than 20 years.