Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
Gradually, almost imperceptibly in some cases, the U.S. economy is gaining strength. Government numbers this week bear that out.
Manufacturing activity grew for a fourth straight month in May, an indication that battered sector of the economy is in recovery. And construction spending inched up in April, helped out by gains in commercial projects like office buildings. But the Dow wasn't mollified by the good economic news. Stock prices have tumbled because of faltering corporate earnings.
In the country, matters of recovery are tied more to crop prices … and to dealing with the fickle mood of Mother Nature.
The continued dry weather in wheat growing states is worsening the condition of the crop. Nearly 70 percent of the grain is rated fair to very poor. Across the Western plains and along the Eastern seaboard the struggle with a lack of water continues.
Meanwhile, some regions of the Midwest would gladly share a portion of the deluge that fell on Wednesday. Areas of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin received up to eight inches or more of rainfall causing widespread flooding in the region. That prompted disaster declarations for a number of counties.
While the rain will contribute to what already has been a slow corn planting in Illinois, dry weather previous to the deluge allowed gains in the overall planting picture. Corn planting is basically on pace with 92 percent of the crop in the ground. Notable exceptions are Ohio and Indiana, which still are lagging behind the average pace by 25 percent or more. The dry weather also helped soybean plantings, which are now 70 percent complete. And the fiber crop also is right on pace with only 10 percent of the cotton crop left to be seeded.