Strong El Nino Means A Mild Summer For Most Of The U.S.

According to the latest national forecasts, a large part of the central and eastern US can expect relatively cool conditions during June, July and August. Meteorologists cite a few factors that could limit big heat risks across much of the Lower 48 including the potential development of a strong El Nino. They have found strong correlation between this year and two other years where a strong El Nino developed by late summer or later — 1982 and 1997 (pictured below). In those two years, temperatures were overall cooler than average across a large portion of the contiguous US. According to NWS meteorologists, this year’s El Nino could be quite potent, possibly rivaling the 1997 event. What we need to keep in mind is that the greater increase in intensity in El Nino, the greater the possibility for cooler temperatures into late summer.

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Americans Lost Over $800 Million To Online Scammers Last Year

With as much information as we have at our fingertips, I was actually surprised to see that U.S. internet users lost more than $800 million to internet scams last year. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 269,422 complaints that year that affected victims across all demographic groups. The most frequently reported crimes are broken down in the chart below, which also illustrates how different scams are targeted at different demographic groups. While confidence / romance scams, in which the criminal establishes an online relationship with his or her victim and later asks for money, are mostly targeted at middle-aged women, men are more likely to fall for too-good-to-be-true car listings and become victims of auto fraud. For more information on the different kinds of online scams visit the IC3’s website or check out its latest annual report on Internet [PDF] cyber crime. (Source: Statista)

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Winter Wheat “Good-to-Excellent” Conditions Unchanged From Last Week

Currently the USDA is showing 69% of the Spring Wheat as rated “Good-to-Excellent,” which is ahead of most trade expectations. Somewhat surprisingly the USDA elected to leave Winter Wheat conditions unchanged at 45% rated “Good-to-Excellent” vs. just 30% rated “Good-to-Excellent” this time last year. I think the bulls were hoping to see the USDA lower their current condition ratings for wheat based on flooding and excessive moisture in many locations. Quality is definitely going to be a concern moving forward. The problem however is with cheap corn prices, it will be tough to move low quality wheat. It’s worth noting, wheat is now being harvested down south: Wheat in Georgia and Louisiana is 23% harvested, which is well behind their traditional pace; Wheat in Alabama is 14% harvested, which is actually a bit ahead of its traditional pace of 10%.

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What You Need To Know About The Upcoming “Leap Second”

You may not realize it, but there is a fear building among traders, exchanges and financial firms over a tiny sliver of time – one second to be precise. On June 30th of this year, a “leap second” will be added to our clocks, including those on all our devices and computer systems. I never realized it, but since this system of correction was implemented in 1972, 26 such “leap seconds” have been added to the world’s clocks. It’s occasionally necessary because the Earth’s rotation speed actually changes in unpredictable ways. Because of the irregularity, the insertion of these leap seconds is only announced clock-elizabeth-to_3078420bsix-months in advance. For most people, this additional second goes completely unnoticed, but for computers they can prove to be a tricky programming feat. The complete explanation is somewhat complicated, but basically, computers can end up reading the addition of a second as time suddenly moving backward, which registers as a “system error” and can cause some computers to crash. Since the addition of “leap seconds” is so rare and infrequent, many programmers don’t account for them in the systems they build, so companies and institutions are left in limbo as to how it will unfold. For the financial world, the concerns are that disruptions to trading operations could occur across exchanges, clearinghouses, individual investors and third party data providers. From what I understand the “leap second” will be added on Tuesday, June 30, just before 7:00 PM CST. Keep in mind, here at home we now have aftermarket trading taking place in the overnight session during that timeframe and several of the leading Asian markets will be poised to open. Also keep in mind our trading environment now relies on sub-second precision at every level. What’s more, markets around the world are handling the change differently. The Chicago Mercantile and Intercontinental Exchanges plan to delay some regular openings until after 7 PM, while U.S. stock exchanges will close their overnight sessions 30 minutes early. Japan will stretch out the seconds leading up to the leap second so their computers don’t even realize a full second has been added. This is a process known as “dilution”, something that Australia and South Korea are also going to use, but not until AFTER the second has officially been added. Singapore will add the second the following morning. Obviously, even if there is no big disastrous crash, there could be a problem with record accuracy, which in some cases could be very costly. Bottom line, mark your calendar, June 30th might be a good day to just sit back and observe the markets?

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Digesting The Latest USDA Soybean Data

Soybeans traders are digesting the latest USDA “crop-progress” numbers with 61% of the crop “planted” vs. the 5-year average of around 55%. I’m still however hearing that many producers in KS, MO and NE are having a tough time getting their soybeans in the ground. The USDA showed KS just 20% planted vs. their traditional 5-average 47%; MO 20% planted vs. their 5-year average of 43%; NE 59% planted vs. their 5-year average of 73%. The bears are quick to point out that as a “whole” we are still collectively ahead of our traditional pace of planting. The bears are also reminding us that during most wet springs we typically see total soybean acres increase…not decrease. Meaning total U.S. soybean acres and perhaps total production estimates could be moving higher in the weeks ahead? The USDA yesterday also reported soybeans as 32% “emerged” vs. the traditional 5-year average of around 25% for this date. On the global side, I’m still not seeing any major uptick in Chinese demand. Unfortunately meal prices inside the Chinese borders remain under pressure as hog inventory growth does very little to excite the bulls. Something perhaps a bit more exciting are the labor uncertainties that remain in Argentina. Despite ongoing negotiations and talks of a possible compromise, the strike appears to be spreading to the north. Keep in mind however, total South American production is moving higher and is record large!

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