Commodity wrap-up

Natural gas shortage causes explosion

The curtailed production and exportation of natural gas and crude oil from Russia continues to plague the world’s economy, with Europe being the most threatened. While Europe uses the gas for home heating and generation of electricity, more distant nations, especially those in South America, need nitrogen fertilizers which are made from natural gas. The short supply of pesticides, plastics, fuels and the sanctions and transportation problems, worsen the impact for virtually all industries and businesses in addition to crop producers. Natural gas for April delivery shot up to the highest level in a year hitting $5.57 per million BTUs today. May crude oil went for $113 per barrel, up about $8.

War worries continue

While in Brussels, President Biden requested all G-20 nations to expel Russia from that economic group and join the U.S. in imposing additional sanctions, providing more aid and accepting refugees from Ukraine. Reports continue to circulate that the President is strategizing how to respond if Russia uses nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. The war-related tightness in grains, especially wheat, continued to support U.S. crop prices, along with the fuel and energy markets. Meanwhile, Russia is suffering from sanctions in the opposite way, as they are unable to sell energy to nations who typically purchase it from them. Wheat for May traded at $11, May corn brought $7.55 May beans grew to $17.10 while May oats jumped a huge 65 cents per bushel to $7.25 at today’s close.

Bird flu helps hogs fly

Concerns of avian flu worsening this spring are growing. If avian flu gets out of hand, it could cause massive slaughtering of poultry across the U.S. and increase the need for pork and beef. In 2015, the flu wiped out millions of birds, leading some analysts to predict a major impact on hog and cattle prices this season. Since pork is generally cheaper than beef, those shopping for poultry alternatives often turn to pork before beef, making hogs the first recipient of the possible poultry shortage. Bird flu is rarely contagious to humans. At today’s close, April hogs were $1.075 per pound, up 5 cents on the week.

Opinions are solely the writer’s. Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker in Valparaiso, Ind.