Story from the Wall Street Journal
An emerging frost threat breathed life back into the moribund Chicago Board of Trade corn futures market Tuesday, sending prices sharply higher.
Front-month December corn gained 28.75 cents, near the exchange-imposed daily 30-cent trading limit, to settle at $3.465. The market had been previously trading below $3.20 all month, and had fallen near the $3 area last week.
The catalyst was weather-forecast models indicating that parts of the U.S. corn belt could get a frost late next week. The market is especially sensitive to a frost threat because crop development has been delayed due to a late spring planting and a generally cool summer and needs more time than usual to reach full maturity.
The weather forecast was enough to give the market an initial push, analysts said. The rally accelerated as the market climbed above key technical chart points, and as speculators scrambled to buy back the previously sold, or short, positions they had accumulated over the past several weeks.
"You've got large [speculators] that are short in this market," said Chad Henderson, analyst with Prime Ag Consultants. "You got above a technical point, and away we went."
The December contract closed above its 40-day and 50-day moving averages for the first time since June 12.
Shawn McCambridge, senior grains analyst for Prudential Bache, said the rally was 25% on the weather forecast with the rest attributable to technical-chart buying and buying back of sold positions, known as short covering. Analysts said the market could see more short covering on Wednesday, but that the rally could be limited.
Although the crop looks good, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that only 12% of it was mature as of Sunday, compared to a five-year average of 37%. It is behind last year's pace, which was considered abnormally late due to the historic Midwest flooding that delayed planting.
Soybeans, which are planted at the same time and region as corn, are not as far behind in development as the corn crop but also rallied sharply on the weather threat. CBOT November soybeans finished 51 cents higher, or up 5.6%, at $9.60 per bushel.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Story from the Wall Street Journal
Sunday, September 27, 2009
As Posted to cNet
FORT HOOD, Texas--John Deere, a household name in the Lone Star state, is hoping the brand will carry over into the market for military unmanned runabouts.
At the Robotics Rodeo taking place this week here at this massive Army post, the company is demonstrating its R-Gator standalone, autonomous mule, which is based on its M-Gator model already in the field. Applications include reconnaissance, patrol, hauling supplies (up to 1,400 lbs.), casualty evacuation, and the "marsupial" capability--namely the ferrying and remote deployment of smaller, specialized robots.
The unit uses John Deere's NavCom technology, GPS, and an inertial navigation system to find its way around. Two laser range sensors detect obstacles up to 65 feet away in both tele-operation and autonomous mode.
The R model can navigate its way to a concealed location, turn its engine off, and then conduct surveillance until approached, recalled, or the batteries run out eight hours later, according to the Moline, Ill.-based company. John Deere staff was quick to point out that all the gear on this model is COTS (for "commercial off-the-shelf"), including the batteries.
The robo-cart can be operated via Windows-based laptop or vest-mounted control unit, along with a game controller, and that unit can display four video streams. It comes with mast-mounted pan/tilt/zoom-capable cameras and and front- and rear-mounted drive cameras. Power comes from a compact 18-horsepower, overhead-valve, 3-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-cycle diesel.
The Robotics Rodeo is sponsored by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and by the U.S. Army's III Corps, headquartered here. The event is billed as a demonstration of technology that could be of benefit to the Army's robotics programs, and specifically its quest for unmanned ground systems.