German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a major electoral setback last week, muddying the outlook for her rule and the future of the European Union.
Germany’s two mainstream parties, the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats both lost substantial support to fringe parties, another sign of global desires for change. Especially shocking to many Germans was the rise of the right-wing Alternative for Germany Party, which placed third in the election.
Going forward, Merkel must navigate a Parliament with six different parties, including significant forces that are opposed to immigration and greater integration with Europe.
Germany is the largest economy in the European Union, and potential discord there or a threat of less German involvement in the EU sent financial markets reeling. The eurocurrency fell to a six-week low near $1.17 and could fall further if Merkel cannot cobble together a governing coalition.
Perkier hog herd
U.S. pig farmers are running wild and now have a record number of hogs, according to a quarterly report the U.S. Department of Agriculture released on Thursday. Total inventories stand at 73.5 million animals, up 2 percent from last year, which knocked prices to the lowest level of the year, trading below 55 cents per pound this week.
For consumers, this abundance of pork should lead to lower prices at the store as well, giving savvy shoppers a chance to buy up cheap chops, hams and bacon.
Healthier wheat harvest
U.S. farmers produced more wheat than expected this year, per the USDA. This summer’s drought in the Upper Midwest, especially North Dakota, damaged wheat production, but farmers likely produced a sufficient wheat crop.
In its quarterly report released on Friday morning, the USDA raised projections for the spring wheat crop and generally showed more wheat for this year than most analysts were expecting. This news knocked Minneapolis spring wheat values to $6.20 per bushel, near the lowest price since mid-June.
The same report showed smaller stockpiles of corn and soybeans, which helped boost those markets, trading at $3.57 and $9.73 per bushel, respectively, on Friday.