Weekly commodity wrap-up

U.S. boils, Europe bakes

Last week began with reports of continued record temperatures in North America and much of Europe. Great Britain’s mercury topped 109 degrees Fahrenheit, causing hundreds of deaths, melting roads and airstrips, and buckling railroad tracks. Wildfires torched more than a million acres in France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. Scientists have attributed the heat and fires, as well as last week’s floods in Germany, to global warming. Temperatures of more than 100 were reported in most of the U.S. and threatened crops and cattle. Climatologists have described a positive feed-back loop in which the hotter it gets, the more people use air conditioners, which warms temperatures even more.

As of 1 p.m. today, October Cattle traded at $143.00 per hundred pounds, December cotton at $91.00 per hundred pounds, December corn at $5.62 per bushel, and November soybeans at $13.13.

Putin releases gas

Russians allowed desperately needed natural gas to flow through pipelines into Germany, despite interruptions blamed on maintenance. Europeans fear Putin will continue to weaponize his control of gas as winter approaches. Demand for natural gas to power air conditioners drove U.S. natural gas prices higher. September natural gas traded at $8.30 per mm BTU, up over a dollar from last week.

Ukraine and Russia agree to grain deal

Concurrently, the UN brokered and agreed to sign an agreement between Turkey, Russia and Ukraine that will allow desperately needed grain exports through the Black Sea. The release of millions of tons of wheat hammered wheat prices lower on Thursday and Friday. Wheat for September delivery traded at $7.55 per bushel on Friday, down a dollar from Wednesday’s high.

Gold glitters as Dollar declines

The “gold bugs,” in hibernation for nearly two years, returned toward week’s end. Thursday morning, gold made a new low but staged a reversal at the close. Weakness in cyber currencies, record inflation rates, and political problems in Europe stimulated safe haven buying. Gold for August delivery was going for $1,719 per 100 ounces.

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