Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mississippi Flooding Threatens US Food and Energy Stockpiles

More upwards pressure is being exerted on the price of food and fuel - the twin drivers of inflation and excluded from the highly sensitive "core inflation" metrics used by the Federal Reserve. Record flooding from the Mississippi River along w/holdover damage from the Tornadoes that swept through the American South several weeks ago are pushing commodity prices higher. But readers should take note that inventory levels of energy also reflect seasonal and historical trends. Also of note is this Friday's April Core CPI numbers which are expected to show an increase in headline inflation.

See here the EIA's natural gas storage analyses: http://ir.eia.gov/ngs/ngs.html

The US Dollar remains quite oversold in comparison to the Euro and Yen. Dovish central bank sentiment in Brussels and Tokyo have pulled the two major crosses back against the dollar in the past week. Another short term correction in the dollar is possible.

Crops, Oil Refineries Threatened By Mississippi River Flooding
The surging Mississippi River is flooding hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland and limiting traffic along the waterway, delaying fuel shipments.

Fields of recently planted corn, cotton and soybeans along the Mississippi Delta were inundated as the river overflowed, government officials said. Soaked soil is forcing thousands of other farmers to delay plantings this year.

"I really can't compare it to anything. This is unprecedented territory right here," said Andy Prosser, head of marketing at the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

The real problem for growers will be when the waters recede.

"They don't know what kind of sand or silt, debris, may have been deposited on their farmland," said Tom Womack, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. He estimated that 500,000 acres are already underwater in the state.

The waters are likely to have washed away seeds and mineral-rich topsoil. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said U.S. stockpiles of key crops such as cotton and corn are at or near historic lows, due to rising global demand.

July corn futures recently traded 1.2% higher on the Chicago Board of Trade, at $7.15 1/2 a bushel, while July delivery soybeans were up 0.7% at $13.44 a bushel. Cotton futures for July delivery were up 0.6% to $1.4631 a pound on IntercontinentalExchange.

The surging river is also threatening energy production and transport throughout the South.

Oil refineries are bracing for potential shutdowns and disruptions to fuel shipments ahead of the floodwaters now moving toward the Louisiana refining corridor. Motiva Enterprise LLC's 237,000 barrel-a-day Norco, La., refinery is preparing for supply disruptions due to the opening of flood gates, according to a spokesman for Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which is part of a joint venture operating the plant.

Fuel products such as gasoline and diesel are distributed through pipelines, rail links and tankers. The floods, which have already stalled some river traffic, could also force companies to halt pipeline flows or lead to congestion on railroads.

U.S. gasoline stockpiles have fallen for 11 straight weeks, and analysts expect further declines in data due for release by the Energy Department on Wednesday. The floods, should they curtail refining in the region, could help push average U.S. retail gasoline prices above $4 a gallon, straining the budgets of consumers and businesses and potentially weighing on the economic recovery.

The bottom line: Markets remain nervous about food and energy price runups. While they suffered a short term drop in last week's trading, the fundamentals remain bullish - but not to the extremes as espoused by some bulls. The short dollar trade is still very crowded and the currency may experience another rally that could dampen bullish commodity prices.

Source: CME News for Tomorrow
blog comments powered by Disqus