While the prospect of War in the Middle East has effectively contained Wall Street, consumers apparently are more optimistic and are continuing to spend.
The Labor Department reports prices at both the wholesale and retail levels jumped sharply last month. New home construction also is on the rise. Low mortgage rates pushed the construction of new homes and apartments to the highest level in 16 years.
Also weighing on much of the investment community this week was sizable snowfall. Rural America was less affected by the winter storms. Even-so, the weather this year is more likely to define the rural economy.
But the probability of enough moisture to produce ample crops remains less likely in the western Corn Belt and high plains. There the drought index remains as high as ever, and mountain snow pack is well below normal.
Colorado municipalities are already enacting water restrictions for lawns and gardens as reservoirs fill at less than half the normal pace.
It is likely that a sizable number of irrigated acres will not be planted this year. The effects of a shortfall of local feedgrain production are already being felt in western feed yards. Despite current high price levels for fed cattle, the dearth of local feed supplies is pushing the price of available rations higher and siphoning profit from cattle feeders.