Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thank you for burning hydrocarbons.

This is kind of an obvious thought, but with President Bush set to probably talk more tonight about energy independence, and with the vagaries of the climate at the moment, the Powershares Deutsche Bank Agriculture ETF (symbol: DBA) may be a good thing to take a hard (soft?) look at. (More info here.) This ETF is composed of wheat, corn, soybean and sugar futures contracts, and sugar and corn (mainly corn here) are used in the production of ethanol.

On top of the bio-fuels aspect, you have the interesting vagaries of the climate lately that may have an impact on crop production. Australia, for example, is experiencing a long drought that in 2006 impacted their wheat production. Australia is the world's #3 exporter of wheat. They have now gotten more rain in one week in some areas than they did all last year, so things may be easing. But unusual temperature and precipitation patterns can have an impact on crop production.

On a slightly different topic, though the beginning of winter went MIA, lately it has been coldish across much of the USA, and natural gas has been moving as a result. Additionally, El Nino suppressed hurricanes in 2006 and may now be dissipating.