Both natural gas and West Texas crude oil prices exploded into new contract highs Friday on the news a federal judge would void the largest offshore U.S. sale of oil and gas acreage in history. A U.S. District Court judge declared the Gulf of Mexico deal invalid due to faulty environmental analysis used in a regulatory decision. 

Energy markets have been racing sharply higher for two months on fears Russia would invade Ukraine. Many analysts forecast $100 per barrel crude if demand continues to rise at the current pace and an invasion takes place. Natural gas for March delivery approached $5 per mm BTUs. on Friday, up nearly $1.20 on the week. March crude brought $87.20 per barrel, an increase of about $3.75 this week.

Soy soars to six-month high

Soybeans were the high fliers in the grain complex this week as supplies from South America continued to decline, planted acreage in Argentina continued to shrink, and Chinese bean demand continued to buoy our exports. Demand for soybean oil drove it to historical highs compared to other vegetable oils as it leaped over the highs made in September. Corn, too, made a new six-month high, hitting $6.37 per bushel on Friday. The strength in grain prices was impressive in light of the strong U.S. dollar, which typically hurts our exports. March beans traded at $14.77.

Commodity crimes accelerating

Gasoline gets siphoned, cattle get rustled, and now, thieves are rewarded by stealing increasing numbers of catalytic converters from the underside of recent model cars, trucks, and buses. As a result, platinum prices have been running faster than the police chasing the suspects who remove the devices. Catalytic converters remove pollutants from gasoline or diesel fuel-powered vehicles. Would-be thieves can remove the devices in as little as two minutes. The Toyota Tacoma and Prius are often cited as two models targeted as an easy mark for removing the auto part. Platinum for April delivery was worth $995 per ounce on Friday, gold fetched $1,786, and silver $22.36.

Opinions are solely the writer’s. Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kansas.  He can be reached at 800-411-3888 or www.paragoninvestments.com. This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.

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