Iowa Public Television


Drought, Demand Propel Markets Higher

posted on July 19, 2002

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

Government numbers out this week gave hope the economy may be turning around.

U.S. companies boosted inventories in May for the first time in 16 months. And industrial production jumped nearly a full percentage point in June, the sixth straight monthly increase.

Still, the positive economic reports did little to cheer Wall Street. The weaker dollar has prompted many foreign investors to bolt the equities markets. The Dow sank below 81-hundred Friday, a five-year low.

The markets also remain plagued by a lack of investor trust, spawned by corporate fraud. To that end, the Senate this week approved a broad overhaul of the laws governing corporate securities and accounting. The president has hinted he will sign whatever bill emerges from Congress.

Meanwhile, the action in the commodity pits hinged on basics, like the weather.


Drought, Demand Propel Markets Higher

Action in futures trading pits continues to be driven by the weather. Heat in the Corn Belt coupled with a drought that has now widened to more than a third of the continental U.S. is beginning to take a toll on crop prospects.

As the winter wheat harvest nears completion, worries are mounting on confirmation of anemic yields. The harvest is now expected to be the lowest in 30 years. Fears also are mounting on news of a deteriorating spring wheat crop, as well. Sixty one percent of the spring crop is rated as no better than fair.

As the corn crop approaches its critical pollination period, the condition of a third of it is rated as no better than fair. Forty six percent of the cotton crop is rated the same way. And half the U.S. soybean crop is also rated as no better than fair.

Weather uncertainty has helped push prices for soybean futures contracts to four-year highs. Prices also have been driven by strong demand and industry fears that world demand for soy could exceed available stocks. Another factor that has entered the pits is the falling dollar. Declines against the euro and the yen make American grain, fiber and oilseed more affordable on world markets.


Tags: agriculture crops drought markets news weather