The Journal Gazette
Friday, June 28, 2019 1:45 pm

Column: USDA shocks markets

WALT and ALEX BREITINGER | Breitinger & Sons LLC

On Friday morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its Planted Acreage report that shocked markets by showing far more corn acres and fewer soybean acres than anticipated.

After a terribly wet spring and widespread reports of farmers unable to plant corn, analysts were expecting the USDA to show 86.7 million acres of corn planted this year, but Friday’s report projected planted acreage at a whopping 91.7 million acres this year.

Meanwhile, soybean acreage was expected at 84.4 million acres as farmers, unable to plant corn, switched to less profitable, but later-planted, soybeans. Instead, the USDA projected a massive cut in soybean acreage to a mere 80 million acres, the lowest level since 2013.

Markets reacted severely to the data, with corn futures falling the exchange-maximum 25 cents per bushel at one time, while soybeans rose as much as 17 cents per bushel.

However, the USDA data is based upon surveys of farmers taken during the first two weeks of June, which means it is based on potentially flawed data if farmers were still optimistic about their ability to plant in early June, an uncertainty that was weighing on market-watchers on Friday.

Coffee perks up

Your morning caffeine fix could be getting more expensive after coffee futures rose this week to a seven-month high.

The java market was in a slow grind lower for months as large global supplies had encouraged selling, but prices have gotten so low they inspired investor buying.

Buying was also encouraged by a strengthening Brazilian currency. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee, and when its currency, the real, rises in value, it makes coffee more expensive worldwide.

During the last month, prices for July arabica coffee futures rose from 89 cents per pound to $1.09 on Friday, a gain of 22%.

Gold hammers out new high

Gold continued rocketing higher this week, reaching $1,440 per ounce on Tuesday.

The metal is capturing attention as tensions with Iran remain high, and investors expect U.S. interest rates to fall. Gold is often seen as a safe haven against global conflict and falling interest rates.

Going into the weekend, prices fell back moderately to $1,415 per ounce ahead of the next round of U.S.-China trade talks. President Trump is planning to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday.

Most analysts don’t expect much progress on a trade deal, but big shifts in either direction could have a significant effect on the global economy, the U.S. dollar, and gold prices.

Walt and Alex Breitinger are commodity futures brokers in Valparaiso. 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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