Future Files

Bitcoin futures on the way

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange made a surprise announcement this week that it would begin listing a contract on bitcoin futures, giving more credibility to the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, which is not controlled by any singular government, has seen increasing interest as an alternative to paper currencies or precious metals. Some of its appeal lies in its lack of control by governments, which also allows owners to use it with less oversight than traditional payment methods.

Many in the investing world have dismissed the currency as a fad or speculative bubble, but the adoption by the CME gives the currency more legitimacy, which helped send bitcoin to an all-time high over $7,000 on Thursday.

The total amount of bitcoin in circulation is controlled and currently is worth over $100 billion, although its price has been volatile in the past, which could make the futures contracts especially attractive to some investors.

Cattle corralled higher

After a wild week of massive price moves, cattle finished Friday sharply higher. December live cattle futures neared $1.28 per pound this week, the highest level since mid-June.

Prices are surging as investors flood into the market, which is forcing beef buyers to pay up for cattle.

Beef is also being supported by expensive pork prices as lean hog futures reached a three-month high this week.

Despite the big rally, market watchers are warning that the underlying demand for beef may not keep pace with the cattle prices, which could force a quick turnaround soon.

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New fed chair makes markets happy

President Trump nominated a new chairman of the Federal Reserve on Thursday, replacing Janet Yellen with Jerome Powell.

After weeks of worrying about Trump’s pick, Powell was seen by markets as a conservative choice. He is expected to maintain the Fed’s current trajectory of raising interest rates in a cautious manner, rather than a more aggressive stance preferred by some Republicans.

Slower interest rate increases would be seen favorably by stock markets, which reached new all-time high levels again this week.

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Opinions are solely the writers’. Walt and Alex Breitinger are commodity futures brokers with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kan. They 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.