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Column | Futures File

Walt Breitinger: Wheat and gas swing with Ukraine blockades, European wildfires scorch

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Both the wheat and natural gas markets were like a political football game. Prices exploded, then crashed, and then exploded again as agreements were formed and broken regarding imports and exports in Ukraine. As of Friday, Russia is drastically cutting natural gas Nord Stream pipeline exports to Europe by 80%, creating a shortage and sharp rise in prices there. Russia’s bombing of Kharkiv and Kherson near the Black sea nixed hopes of the U.N-brokered deal that would have enabled grain exports. People are starving while millions of tons of this year’s harvest are now stuck sitting in silos.

Compared to last week, September wheat jumped 30 cents at $8.10 per bushel, with December corn going for $6.24, and November beans at $14.72. U.S. natural gas futures for September delivery were $8.30 per 10,000 mm BTU.   

European wildfires 

While our own persistent U.S. heat records are exceeded, and forest fires continue burning thousands of acres, the threats and damage to Europe have surged as well. Roughly 2,000 wildfires have scorched E.U. nations including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and France.

From fire to floods

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their most up-to-date sea level rise projections for all U.S. states. The projections are frightening. Our recent bout with blistering droughts and fires has been challenging, devastating and deadly. But the NOAA projections, the first since 2017, provide another set of data far more threatening for those who live in coastal areas or near current sea level. This week’s flash floods in St. Louis and Kentucky may serve as a preview of what is to come.

Silver bulls race to buy the blue metal 

The stampede into all metals futures continued this week, with silver leading the way. September silver went up $1.50 since last Friday, trading at $20.20 per ounce. December gold was at $1,780. October platinum went for $888, and September copper brought $3.57 per pound. 

Commodity quiz: 

List the seven nations that border Ukraine and identify the political leader of each. Answers next week.

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

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