Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
Rumors of war and mixed economic news pressured equities markets this week. The Dow, for instance, closed below 8-thousand points for the first time since late July. Investors have been rattled by uncertainty over war with Iraq, but analysts also blame the decline on weak economic performance in recent weeks.
Consumer inflation rose three-tenths of a percent in August, the largest advance in four months. Industrial production fell in August, the first decline in nine months. And housing construction plunged 2.2 percent last month, further dampening market hopes.
On the upside, the decline in the value of the dollar has made U.S. exports more affordable and boosted the sale of American farm goods overseas. That's a good sign in farm country, where the autumn rite of harvest is now under way.
USDA has begun tracking the progress of the 2002 harvest. In its first report of the autumn crop collection, USDA reports 9 percent of the corn crop is in the bin, right on pace with the five-year average. And 9 percent of this year's cotton crop has been baled, with most of that amount coming out of Texas.
In the nation's wheat fields, 90 percent of the spring wheat crop has been harvested … and 17 percent of the winter wheat crop has been planted.
. The pace of the harvest may not be as big a concern right now as the condition of the crop. USDA says dry weather has left 58 percent of the corn crop in no better than fair condition … and 56 percent of the soybean crop is rated no better than fair.