Weekly commodity wrap-up

Double trouble from hurricanes

A new study released in the journal “Nature Climate Change” last week predicts consecutive hurricanes and other tropical storms will occur more frequently. The study out of Princeton University concludes that as the earth warms further from burning fossil fuels, intense storms are more likely to occur together in the same regions. The two-punch combination of Hurricane Ida and Nicolas in Louisiana, and series of four hurricanes in Florida in 2004, are examples of what the researchers expect to happen more often. Although the study did not forecast more storms overall would occur, it did suggest the size and frequency of the storms would get worse.

Lumber lunges

In May 2021, the peak of the COVID-stimulated housing and remodeling boom, the price of nearby random length 2x4s sailed to over $1,700 per thousand board feet. The high prices, of course, stimulated more logging and milling. That caused a supply increase, just as interest rates shot up and shut down new home sales. The subsequent collapse in lumber prices has continued. March lumber fell to $366 this week, a price crash seldom seen in commodity markets.

Beans jump, corn languishes

Soybeans shot up on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday on heavy export demand. Bean farmers were especially impressed that China was a major buyer, despite tensions building with the U.S. over the war in Ukraine. Corn and wheat, not included in the export reports, saw no escape from their doldrums.

Green fuels diversify

Climate scientists continue to evaluate the relative impacts of our conventional biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel), and debates are raging over nuclear and hydrogen power’s potential. Meanwhile, our U.S. farmers are also looking at “green ethylene” as yet another renewable source of energy, which might lower carbon emissions. Ethylene is a flammable hydrocarbon gas that occurs within natural gas, coal gas, and crude. Some fruits emit ethylene as they ripen.

Winners and losers

Our weekly winners include all energy markets led by crude oil up about $4.00 a barrel at $79.50, sugar trading at .2088, up 2 cents per pound and platinum going for $980, up nearly $65 per ounce. Stock indexes also saw price increases this week. The decliners were wheat, down 35 cents per bushel, and May frozen O.J., down 20 cents per pound on the week.

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.