Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
Economic forecasters had their work cut out for them this week, based on a host of new government numbers. Among the more troubling signs were indications of a further weakening labor market.
Although household surveys showed the unemployment rate down slightly in September, a separate government poll found employers slashing 43-thousand jobs last month. In addition, the government reported consumer spending declined in August … and factory orders were flat.
In the country they're studying different forecasts, in particular those dealing with the on-going harvest.
Grain and oilseed markets tracked lower this week based on some bearish crop production guesses by private analysts. One of them, Iowa-based FC Stone, said it expects both corn and soybean harvest totals will be higher than USDA's September projection.
Stone estimates corn production at 8.923 billion bushels, up 74 million bushels from USDA September. For soybeans, Stone sees a harvest of 2.720 billion bushels. That's 64 million bushels above USDA's September estimate. USDA's next crop production report is due out October 11.
In the field, the pace of harvest has quickened, although it still lags behind schedule for most major commodities. The corn harvest is 20 percent complete, although nearly a third of the crop is rated in poor to very poor condition. Some 17 percent of both the soybean and cotton crops are out of the ground. More than a quarter of the beans are rated poor to very poor.