Hello, I'm Sid Sprecher. Mark Pearson is off this week.
It has not been a good week for an already nervous Wall Street. While government numbers do show the nation's economy grew at a sizzling 6.1 percent in the first quarter, consumer spending fell last month. But the street was more shaken by news that tele-communications giant WorldCom had told even bigger lies on its balance sheet than energy giant Enron.
The core of investment is faith and when investors lose confidence, markets tumble and the impact can rip a hole in the economy.
In Rural America there remains some faith in commodity markets. But doubts have developed over how much of a crop producers will be able to harvest in a year of abnormal weather.
Forecasts for more hot dry weather pushed grain and oilseed markets higher for much of the week, as the trade factored lower yields into prices. A wet spring in the eastern Corn Belt coupled with the recent drought conditions of the western Corn Belt had removed yields from price calculations.
But the trade's bullish sentiment was tempered on Friday by the release of government numbers that showed farmers had managed to plant 78.9 million acres of corn – four percent more than last year and far more than the trade had thought the wet spring would have allowed. Acres devoted to soybeans shrank a bit to 72.9 million acres. Cotton plantings were estimated at 14.4 million acres, 9 percent below last year's acreage. Despite a lucrative government subsidy program for cotton, many producers felt weak market prospects and the cost of growing the fiber warranted shifting acres to corn and beans. Friday's corn and cotton markets opened lower, soybean prices were sharply higher.