Walt and Alex Breitinger

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

Drama at the border

On Thursday night, President Trump announced that he was going to implement tariffs against Mexican goods “until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens.”

The proposed tariff is expected to start as a 5 percent tax on June 10 and would escalate by 5 percent each month until they reached 25 percent.

Economists expect that the tariffs will decrease trade between the two nations, slowing both economies, while Americans will likely face higher prices for goods imported from Mexico, including trucks, tractors, beer, and fresh produce.

U.S. stock markets plunged on this announcement, with the Dow futures contract falling to a four-month low on Friday morning.

U.S. exporters who sell to Mexico could be exposed if Mexico counters with tariffs of their own. During the last trade dispute with Mexico, U.S. agricultural products were targeted by Mexican counter tariffs. Fears of a repeat attack on U.S. food exports helped to accelerate a selloff in hog futures this week, touching a three-month low on Friday under 83 cents per pound.

Corn careens higher

Corn prices popped sky high this week, nearing a one-year high at $4.38 per bushel. Ongoing wet weather continues to plague Midwestern farmers, and many will be unable to plant their corn crop on time. Only 58 percent of the crop had been planted as of last weekend, the slowest pace on record. Current estimates are that nearly 10 percent of this year’s expected crop could go unplanted, and much of the remaining late-planted or waterlogged corn could suffer from lower yields.

As a result, market watchers fear that corn supplies could be extremely tight in the U.S. this fall, potentially the lowest level in a generation.

Adding fuel to the rally was a recent announcement by the Trump administration that it was going to allow higher ethanol blends to be used year-round. Most U.S. ethanol is made from corn and is then blended into gasoline; ethanol demand has exploded during the last 20 years and now accounts for nearly 40 percent of all U.S. corn use, a figure that could rise after the new rule is implemented.

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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 www.indianafutures.com. This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.


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