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Paragon Commentary

Futures File: Wheat, Cattle & French Elections

May 05, 2017

Wheat Storms Higher after Snow

Last weekend, a massive snowstorm dumped up to 20 inches of snow on western Kansas and nearby states. This late-season storm devastated wheat fields as snow smashed emerging plants and below-freezing temperatures threatened to damage plant growth.

Kansas grows 20% of the U.S. wheat crop, and this storm could reduce production by over 50 million bushels. The extent of damage is unknown so far, but crop watchers are scrambling to assess the destruction.

Markets initially exploded on the news, with Kansas City wheat prices gaining almost 40 cents per bushel by mid-day Tuesday. By week’s end, the fears of crop loss and prices had subsided substantially, partially since the world is awash in wheat, which will allow the global supply to cover the potential losses.

 

Cattle Steam Ahead

The areas blanketed in snow are also home to a huge portion of the U.S. cattle herd. Many animals were caught in the storm, killing thousands. Even if the animals survived, cold weather and loss of access to feed led many to lose substantial weight, adding to the meat production loss. These losses devastated ranchers and came at a time when the beef market was already on edge.

Prices for cattle have been exploding, and the storm losses sent prices soaring, just as grilling season demand heats up. June cattle futures blew to new highs, pushing over $1.34 per pound on Thursday. Prices made a major U-turn on Friday, tumbling the maximum 3 cents per pound as traders took profits on bullish bets.

 

Vive la France? Vive la Euro?

French voters go to the polls this weekend to choose a new president, a direction for their nation, and the future of the European Union.

Emanuel Macron, the pro-European, centrist candidate, is currently showing a substantial lead in the polls but has been losing ground recently to Marine Le Pen, who represents the far-right National Front Party.

If Le Pen surprises pollsters and wins the election, many expect that France will follow Great Britain’s lead and pull out of the EU, a move that could irrevocably damage the political union and crush the eurocurrency. France is the second-largest EU economy and was one of the six founding members.

As a result, this election will have implications across Europe and around the world, which has even led U.S. politicians to weigh in, with President Trump voicing support for Le Pen, and former President Obama endorsing Macron.

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