Archive for Friday, September 14, 2001

Crop prices rise slightly as commodity trading begins

September 14, 2001

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In the first day of trading after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, commodity markets made a strong showing Thursday with crop prices up slightly.

"Usually uncertainty brings grain futures down," said Matthew Vajnar, grain merchandiser for Ottawa Cooperative Assn. "Today was pretty encouraging."

Analysts said the increase was fueled mostly by economic uneasiness and expectations for a bullish crop estimate Friday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Commodity markets at the Kansas City Board of Trade and the Chicago Board of Trade reopened Thursday after being closed for two days.

"Commodity markets finished relatively firm in the first day of trading that is fairly significant," said Paul Dickerson, vice president of overseas operations for U.S. Wheat Associates. "Globally, a lot of private sector buyers are still in a sense of shock."

After opening lower and trading sluggishly for most of the session, soybean prices on the Chicago Board of Trade jumped sharply higher in a late-session rally, gaining about 2.5 percent in value.

Corn prices climbed about 1 percent. Wheat also finished higher for the day, pulled up late in the session by the rallies in row crops after hours of mostly choppy trading.

"It went as I had hoped it would go," Dickerson said. "There is no past event that would be comparable to what happened here on Tuesday. Generally speaking, after we have had some kind of world crisis or beginning of world altercation, we've often seen markets fall sharply recover rather quickly, and go on from there."

People realize there ultimately is more a demand for food rather than less, simply because of disruptions during warfare, he said.

Pro-Exporter, a Kansas City, Kan.-based commodity consulting group, on Thursday prepared an analysis for clients outlining wheat exports in the event of embargoes or other disruptions.

"Afghanistan and Pakistan are not big importers of any kind," said Bill Hudson, an independent consultant for Pro-Exporter. "The whole Middle East is important in respect to wheat, but not in terms of corn and soybeans."

Afghanistan and Pakistan import less than 3 million tons of wheat, but the Middle East accounts for 14 percent of the world market, he said.

William Tierney Jr., an economist at Kansas State University, said prices for crops were determined by changes in the supply and demand for those commodities, and are affected in part by energy prices, the value of the dollar, or a world recession.

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