The nation's financial community continues to search for clues of better times ahead. This week analysts were mulling government statistics indicating that inflation, as measured at the producer level, plunged last month. Lower residential energy costs and falling gasoline prices were the main contributors to that. Lower inflation naturally leads to Wall Street speculation of another interest rate cut. But rate cuts thus far have not done much to prod the economy.
Companies aren't using the cheaper capital to expand. And consumer spending remains lethargic in the wake of news of lay-offs and lower corporate earnings.
Conversely, in Rural America the mood is a bit more up-beat this week. After enduring a trying winter and spring, prospects for most of the major farm commodities improved this week.
But, wheat prices have moved higher on stronger demand, and concern in the trade that dry weather is shortening corn and soybean crops.
The market sentiment defies government estimates of a record soybean crop, and ample corn and cotton crops. But for most of the week grain and oilseed prices traded at sharply higher levels.
The markets were supported by dry weather and the prospect for more, courtesy of a high-pressure ridge some analysts believe will prevent moisture from entering the region as critical corn pollination period nears. But the catalyst for this week's strong market up-tick was the sale of 165 thousand metric tons of corn to China. It's believed a drought in China, normally a corn exporter, may be harming that nation's corn crop beyond earlier projections.