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March 30 — Financial markets took another hit to the stomach as news over the weekend came out that the U.S. government has turned down restructuring plans for GM and Chrysler as being insufficient to bring long-term changes to the companies that will ensure survival in a new global marketplace. They have been given an additional 60 days to come up with a better plan or they will not receive any further government funding.
This triggered a sell-off in financial markets, with bankruptcy concerns looming over GM, which would lead to huge layoffs as well.
The Dow Jones closed down 254 points today. The U.S. dollar finished up just over half a cent today. The Canadian dollar is down 1.72 cents to close at US79.11 cents.
Crude oil finished down $3.97, closing at US$48.41 per barrel.
Corn finished even to down two cents a bushel, beans are down 12-20 cents a bushel and wheat is up four to seven cents a bushel.
Canola is down $1-$7 per tonne and barley finished down $6-$9 per tonne, closing at $144 per tonne.
Grain trading was very thin today as everyone is trying to limit their exposure to the markets ahead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report tomorrow.
The huge drop in the Canadian dollar helped to keep canola from following beans, but if the seeded acre numbers are big for beans tomorrow, you can expect to see canola take a slide alongside beans for a couple of days.
The Argentine farmers’ strike is reported to have ended over the weekend but that’s not to say that it won’t be back on at a moment’s notice again. Farmers are trying to get the government to reconsider the 35 per cent tariff on beans, and with an election this summer, there is going to be a lot of pressure on the government to respond if it wants the farm vote.
I would expect we will see this strike strategy used every few weeks until the government comes up with a response the farmers are wanting.
Weather continues to be the driving factor in the wheat markets as flooding in the northern regions has markets concerned that there will be a loss in spring wheat acres. Snow and frost have others concerned as to potential damage to winter wheat crops in some of the southern plains regions.
Slumping corn futures and no new buying interest in the feed barley markets have forced barley futures down hard.
That’s all for today. — Brian
— Brian Wittal has spent over 27 years in the grain industry, including as an elevator manager and producer services representative for Alberta Wheat Pool, a regional sales manager for AgPro Grain and farm business representative for the Canadian Wheat Board, where he helped design some of the new pricing programs. He also operates his own company providing marketing and risk management advice for Prairie grain producers. Brian’s daily commentaries focus on how domestic and world market conditions affect you directly as grain producers.