The National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales were at an annual rate of 5.03 million units in February, up 2.9% from January's pace and better than expected. Inventories of unsold homes were down 3% to 4.03 million units.
The June U.S. T bonds dropped 2.05/32nds to 118.51/64ths. May lumber closed up $5.20 at $230.80, the highest close in two weeks.
It was one week ago today that investors in Bear Stearns learned that their shares were being bought by JPMorgan Chase and Company for a paltry $2 per share. Bear Stearns is trading higher today after it was reported that JPMorgan increased its offer from $2 to roughly $10 per share in an attempt to satisfy upset shareholders. The December eurodollars closed down .20 at 97.635, the lowest close in a week.
Grain prices fell in broad commodity selling last week due to panic over the Bear Stearns transaction and concerns that other big institutions may soon follow. Grain prices rebounded today, helped by news of a better transaction price for Bear Stearns shareholders and a slight improvement in the housing market. July corn closed up 17.75 cents at $5.37.
On Friday, the USDA reported that 113,000 tons of U.S. soybeans were sold to China. July soybeans closed up the 50 cent daily limit at $12.72.
The USDA said that last week's export inspections of:
Corn totaled 42.25 million bushels, down 6% from a year ago.
Soybeans totaled 26.2 million bushels, up 32% from a year ago.
Wheat totaled 18.1 million bushels, up 25% from a year ago.
July wheat climbed up 32 cents to $10.185.
The USDA estimated that 501.0 million pounds of beef were produced last week, up 3.4% from a year ago. Pork production was estimated at 468.7 million pounds, up 10.0% from a year ago. 2.306 million head of hogs were slaughtered last week, the USDA estimated, a new record high for March. June hogs were down .57 at 71.50.
June cattle ended down .12 at 90.85 after last Thursday's report showed March 1st cattle on feed numbers up 2.2% from a year ago, a little less than expected.
Weather conditions have been favorable for Florida's citrus groves lately and central Florida received more rain over the weekend. May orange juice was down a penny at $1.1205.
OPEC President Chakib Khelil said over the weekend that he expects the price of crude oil to range between $80 and $110 per barrel in 2008. May crude oil closed down .98 at $100.86.
June gold closed down $1.10 at $923.20, a fairly calm start to the week after investors witnessed big commodity losses last week.
Japan's Cabinet Office said that its sentiment index for large companies fell from +.5 to 9.3 in the first quarter of 2008, the lowest since the index began in 2004. The June yen fell .0224 to .9963, the lowest close in a week.