Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Prodded by the biggest jump in gasoline prices in three years, inflation at the wholesale level shot up 1 percent last month. That report plus continuing concerns about financial fallout from the conflict in the Middle East and news of lay-offs at companies ranging from Levi-Straus to Anderson Consulting dampened market enthusiasm.
In Rural America where some farmers have already started Spring planting, more than a few were studying the USDA's Supply- Demand report to discern market direction.
Because the monthly report from USDA is the benchmark for supply and demand in agriculture, the markets rely on the data contained in them to help make decisions on buying and selling. And the market response to Wednesday's report was largely negative.
USDA raised corn ending stocks by 25-million bushels from last month, thanks to an equivalent drop in feed usage. And though stocks are 130-million bushels below last year, the projected 2002 harvest of 10-billion bushels hangs over the corn market.
The soybean carryout remains the same as last month at 265-million bushels. A slight decrease in supply was offset by an equivalent drop in usage.
Wheat ending stocks were increased by 32-million bushels, again thanks to a drop in feed usage.
And the cotton carryout was reduced to 8.3 million bales due to greater domestic mill use and increased exports.