Weekly commodity wrap-up

Fuels Fall as Omicron Cases Rise

The massive crash in crude oil on Thanksgiving continued early last week as dozens of countries and several U.S. states reported cases of the new highly contagious variant. Subsequently, governments around the globe instituted travel restrictions and other rules designed to reduce the spread of Omicron.

As a result, crude, diesel, unleaded gasoline fell sharply until Thursday. On that day, OPEC nations and Russia hinted they might not increase output as quickly as expected, so prices stabilized toward the week’s end. Natural gas prices also fell sharply despite shortages in Europe and the slow replacement of supplies from Russia.

As of midday Friday, January crude was down roughly $1.50 per barrel on the week, while January unleaded gasoline brought $1.9680 per gallon before tax. Natural gas for January was at $4.20, up about a penny.

Metals Lose Luster as Fed Talks Tightening

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress the U.S. Central Bank would likely tighten monetary policies, potentially raising interest rates sooner than expected. Gold and silver tumbled midweek on that fear, which can make owning metals more expensive and, therefore, less attractive. Gold for February delivery was $1,781 per ounce, while March silver traded at $22.44.

Grains Swing with Covid but Recover on Demand

At the week’s start, the Omicron outbreak scarred wheat, corn, and soybeans. However, active buying of beans by China and dryness in many crop-producing regions worldwide, such as Brazilan and Argentina, overtook the sentiment and added several cents per bushel to our row crops. January beans traded at $12.66 per bushel midday Friday, up 20 cents, March corn at $5.85, and March wheat at $8.01.

Words of Wisdom

“Remember that prices are never too high for you to begin buying or too low to begin selling. But after the initial transaction, don’t make a second unless the first shows you a profit.” —Jessie Livermore in Edwin Lefevre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.

Opinions are solely the writer’s. Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker in Valparaiso, Ind. He can be reached at (800) 411-3888 or www.indianafutures.com. This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.