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U.S. Economy
The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 28,000 last week to 452,000, the lowest in fifteen months. The March 2011 eurodollars closed down .07 at 98.18.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that durable goods orders were up .2% in November, not as strong as hoped for.

Grains and Cotton
The USDA said that, as of last week, 2009-2010 exports of:
Corn fell from up 5% to up 1% from a year ago.
Soybeans fell from up 40% to up 37% from a year ago.
Wheat improved from down 30% to down 29% from a year ago.
Cotton remained down 37% from a year ago.

The USDA said that U.S. beef production totaled 2.02 billion pounds in November, up 3% from a year ago. Pork production totaled 1.92 billion pounds, up 2% from a year ago. February hogs fell 1.87 to 63.80 in spite of severe winter weather in the midwestern U.S.

The USDA said that net sales of beef totaled 3,500 tons last week, down from 4,500 tons the previous week. February cattle closed down .62 at 84.75.

Statistics Canada said that lumber production by sawmills totaled 4.34 million cubic meters in November, up 4% on the month, but down 17% from a year ago. March lumber ended down $1.90 at $236.40.

Just in time for Christmas! Much of the U.S. is getting hit with a major winter storm that stretches from Minnesota to Texas and is moving eastward, leaving colder temperatures behind in the West.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were down 166 billion cubic feet last week to 3.400 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now up 12% from a year ago. February natural gas is steady to lower.

Several markets closed early today ahead of Christmas. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday… peace to all.