Weekly commodity wrap-up

Floods and fires ravage both coasts

Ida, the fifth strongest hurricane in history to hit the U.S., knocked out power for more than a million people and shut off the water to more than 600,000 homes. Ida later dumped record rains in New York and New Jersey in an unexpected surge, killing dozens of people.

Just as the South and East Coast are receiving way too much rain, drought and fires continue to plague the northwest. The latest fire is near Lake Tahoe. The Caldor Fire, as it’s been named, has burned hundreds of thousands of acres and may continue for weeks longer.

November lumber traded at $614 per 1,000 board feet as of midday today, up roughly $100. Drought fears continued to escape the corn belt, so the price of both corn and soybeans declined on the week. As of midday today, December corn was at $5.25 per bushel, and November beans traded at $12.94.

The worst yet to come

The World Meteorological Association (WMA) released its global weather assessment this week. They predict storms and other consequences of the climate crisis will worsen in intensity and frequency. We are not taking adequate steps to reduce global warming, and, thus far, we’re also not taking appropriate measures to protect ourselves from the impact of the climate changes they expect us to face in the future. Heatwaves, droughts, fires and floods will happen more often as more water vapor will be in the atmosphere. WMA’s report emphasizes how the rising temperature of our oceans will continue to affect local weather by increasing both the frequency of storms and enlarging the areas impacted by tropical storms.

Precious metals blast toward the moon

A continued sharp decline in the U.S. dollar ignited a stampede into metals today. Surprisingly weak payroll reports released by the Department of Labor contributed to thoughts the Federal Reserve will hold off on tapering (raising interest rates) until November. COVID-19 infections, the storms, and a weak European economy increased expectations that low rates and financial problems may lie ahead and cause “flight to quality” buying, especially precious metals. In the meantime, copper inventories have been declining due to purchases by China. October gold traded at $1,830, September silver brought $24.75, while October platinum was at $1,020 per ounce.

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