Weekly commodity wrap-up

Zelenskyy asks Congress for aid

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy addressed Congress on his first trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine. Congress has approved $50 billion in aid since February for financial, humanitarian, and military purposes. The role of Ukraine and Russia in grain production and exports and Russia’s control of natural gas has focused commodity users and investors on how our legislators will respond.

Trading places

As speculators pause to celebrate the holidays, some might seek respite in watching the widely acclaimed 1982 5-star comedy and Christmas film “Trading Places.” The story line hinges on a nurture versus nature debate between two extremely wealthy brothers who are members of an exclusive club. They make a wager about what would happen if they switch the lives and social status of a white, upper-class commodity broker (played by Dan Aykroyd) with that of a black, poor ne’er-do-well (played by Eddie Murphy). The plot thickens as the brothers strip the snobby broker of his worldly possessions and assist the lower-class street hustler in developing skills and gaining unlimited profits from trading wheat, pork bellies, and orange juice.

While often praised as one of the greatest comedy films ever made, its R-rating and sexual and racial jokes may be offensive to some viewers. Nominated for multiple academy awards, the film exposes the unabashed pursuit of wealth while delving into the controversy as to who deserves to make the billions, a theme of many recent block-buster Wall Street films.

Weekly winners and losers

Energy markets rang the bell, with January diesel up 2 cents this week and February crude up $2.00, at $79.50. Metals continued a four-week rally led by January platinum, which gained $15.00 per ounce. By Friday afternoon, silver broke above $24.00. February hogs were roughly 5 cents higher. March corn climbed to new highs for the month, closing at $6.65 per bushel. Wheat and beans gained little ground.

Stock Index futures fell the most; the March NASDAQ was trading at 11,075 early this afternoon.

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