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Here's a look at futures prices on commodities that impact Southern Illinois and the rest of the Midwest. 

Chinese trade trap roils markets

All eyes were on Argentina last week as President Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss the ongoing trade war between the two nations.

The first reports signaled that the two nations declared a trade truce, with both sides holding off on raising tariffs further. President Trump also signaled that they had made a “BIG leap forward,” and that China was going to make substantial agricultural purchases, a move that would help ailing U.S. farmers hurt by the ongoing trade war. On Monday, soybeans surged to a five-month high over $9.20 per bushel, while Dow Jones futures rocketed nearly 550 points higher on expectations for better trade.

However, the markets faltered later in the week as President Trump followed up his initial optimism with a threat, “I am a Tariff Man.” Additionally, a major Chinese business executive, Meng Wanzhou, of tech-giant Huawei, was arrested in Canada for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, a move that some view as political pressure against the Chinese. These stories roiled markets midweek, with the Dow futures losing more than 1,800 points (-7.0 percent) from Monday’s high to Thursday afternoon’s low, recovering only slightly by the weekend.

Longer-term, Chinese-American relations will continue to be the focus of markets worldwide as Presidents Trump and Xi each try to outmaneuver one another without damaging their domestic economies too badly in the process.

Palladium could outshine gold as most precious metal

For the first time in 16 years the price of a scarce, silver-colored, industrial metal briefly exceeded the price of gold on Wednesday.

Palladium, traded in 100-ounce contracts on the futures market, is used in catalytic converters to reduce pollution in automobiles fueled with gasoline. Its better-known cousin, platinum, is also used in the auto exhaust systems but primarily for cleaning the exhaust of diesel-burning engines which have been declining in popularity.

Speculators have been busy picking the winners and losers among gold, silver, copper, platinum, and palladium as huge sums of capital exit from the stock market and move toward precious metals due to concern that stocks have topped-out.

As of midday Friday, gold was back on top at $1245 per ounce, while palladium traded for $1194, and platinum took the bronze medal at $792.

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Walt and Alex Breitinger are commodity futures brokers in Valparaiso, Indiana, and the opinions here are solely the writers'. They can be reached at 800-411-3888 or This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.


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