Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
Statistics suggest the nation's economy is on solid footing. Inflation, usually a persistent concern of the investment community, appears to be well under wraps.
At the wholesale level prices declined by two percent last month lead by the biggest drop in food prices in 28 years. Over the last 12 months inflation at the wholesale level has fallen 2 percent.
That's good news to the nation's industrial sector, but the outlook for producers of commodities is less certain. Agriculture generally prospers when there's a bit of inflation in the economy. But the climate of low inflation and the prospect of ample supplies continue to curb market demand. Markets did get a bit of a boost this week from a shift in the supply outlook.
Activity in futures trading pits picked up this week on the most fundamental of factors – the weather. Rains in the eastern corn belt are slowing planting efforts in key corn and soybean producing areas.
Nationally only 42 percent of the corn crop has been planted, nine points off the average pace. Illinois corn producers are even further behind. A year ago 85 percent of the Illinois crop had been planted, this week the figure was 30%.
Soybean planting is just underway, six percent of the crop has been planted, but at this time a year ago the figure was 13 percent.
In cotton country producers of the fiber are undaunted by dismal market prices. Planting progress is well ahead of the average pace. The potential of ample government payments has fueled interest in growing the fiber well beyond its market prospects.
In wheat country the rains may have improved the condition of the 02 winter wheat crop. Even so, 64% of the crop was rated at no better than fair.