Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
The nation's economy seems to be limping toward year's end. Better than expected Holiday retail sales haven't obscured the fact the economy is not expanding. Low interest rates have spurred home sales, but unemployment has climbed to the highest level since early in the Clinton administration. And the lower interest rates have failed to encourage businesses to invest in new production facilities.
The economic miasma has prodded the administration to replace the President's lead economic advisor and the treasury secretary. The moves were largely greeted on Wall Street with indifference if not skepticism. However, Government announcements detailing supply and demand were viewed with greater interest.
With one eye on the southern hemisphere and the other scanning government reports, grain and oilseed traders this week were seeking a balance between reality and potential. To that end government numbers issued at midweek lent support to prices.
The USDA lowered its estimate for corn exports by 25 million bushel, but raised its projection for use by the food, seed, and industrial sectors by 30 million bushels. The increase is most reflective of expanding ethanol production.
The government lowered its estimate of ending corn stocks to 843 million bushels. That is 47 percent below the amount of corn on hand a year ago. The USDA also projects there will be fewer bushels of wheat on hand, lowering it's carryout estimate of all varieties of wheat to 348 million bushels, 55 percent below year ago levels. The estimates for soybean ending stocks remained the same, but at 175 million bushels the soybean carryout is the lowest in 6 years.
In cotton country the government says harsh weather through the growing and harvest season has claimed 14 percent of the fiber crop this year. The harvest is now projected to yield 17.4 million bales.