The agricultural commodities markets face a double-edged sword as the federal government shutdown drags on. Traders are moving to the sidelines as the flow of data regarding market movements slows to a trickle, and they fear that when the shutdown ends the resulting torrent of data volatility will hit markets hard.
The current lack of federally supplied data on daily sales is leading to a drop in the volume of trades and increasing the likelihood of more short covering as the speculative shorts try to rein in their risks. Coupled with estimates forecasting large crops in North America, prices for corn have dropped to three-year lows and wheat prices are near annual lows as well.
The highest level of concern centers on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report which is scheduled to be released one week from today, on October 11th. The USDA website is not currently available due to the lapse in federal funding, and a message warns that after funding has been restored users should allow “some time” for the website to be available again.