Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
The nation's financial community continues to search for signs the economy is pulling itself into recovery mode. And Wall Street isn't finding much that is encouraging. Unemployment last month soared to 6 percent, an eight-year high. Reports of construction activity are mixed; higher spending but less building. And the luster of the dollar seems to be dimming as foreign investors look elsewhere for what economists call stronger "stores of value".
The weaker dollar typically helps exporters, especially the commodity sector. But a jump in foreign sales of American food and fiber has been more hope than reality. Futures prices for most crops remain under pressure even amid the seasonal uncertainty of crops that have yet to be planted, much less harvested.
Despite drenching rains in some parts of the Corn Belt, corn planting remains a bit ahead of the average pace. At the beginning of the week 26% of the crop had been planted. Some, 3% of the nation's soybean crop was also in the ground.
In cotton country 26% of the fiber had been planted, well ahead of the average pace.
In the trading pits, wheat prices continue to sag despite news of the stressed condition of the Hard Red winter wheat crop. A third of the crop is rated in the very poor or poor category. Sixty four percent is rated as no better than fair. For the Hard red variety the problem has been drought on the plains, to the east where much of the nation's Soft red wheat is grown, the crop may be suffering from too much rain.