Topics for May
Copyright (c) 1998 Commodity Systems Inc. (CSI). All rights are reserved.
Topics discussed in this month's journal.
The new Millennium is fast approaching and everyone seems to be looking forward to Y2K and beyond. With little more than one-half year remaining in this century, we thought it might be fun and informative to take a peek into our data archives to see what the situation was like for commodity traders 100 years ago. Please join us in exploring a historical snapshot of 1899.
We begin our journey by opening a two-inch thick, bound edition of the financial pages of The Daily Trade Bulletin for the entire 1899 year. The pages are musty, very fragile, and likely to tear in the absence of great care. The volume measures about 26 by 18 inches, which was the size of a full newspaper page back then. Each day of the year is reported in sufficient detail to require four or more pages of news stories and tabulations, covering mostly domestic commerce.
On May 1st, May Day, 1899 The Daily Trade Bulletin celebrated its 33rd year of publication. They reported on futures and cash markets in the U.S. and overseas. Chicago offered price quotes for Chicago Board of Trade Wheat, Corn, Oats, Mess Pork, Lard and Short Rib beef sides. Each of these six markets traded three futures contracts with deliveries in May '99, July '99 and September '99. Basis the May contract, the price of wheat was 71 7/8ths cents per bushel, corn closed at 34 1/8, and Oats closed at 26 1/2.
The New York Cotton market report included quotes on seven delivery months from May '99 through November '99, with prices of 5 cents to 6 cents per pound. Many other futures markets were listed for trade in the grain complex. New York, Baltimore, St. Louis, Toledo, Minneapolis, Duluth and Detroit all reported active trading in future wheat and corn. What happened to all those markets?
The New York stock exchange report showed their full complex of 37 stocks, of which twenty were railroads. A sampling from the list included General Electric, Glucose Sugar, Peoples Gas Company, American Sugar, National Lead, Consolidated Gas, Tennessee Coal, American Steel and Wire, Western Union Telegraph, National Steel, Leather Industries, and Federal Steel. A sampling of the railroads includes the New York Central, Rock Island, Reading, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Hudson, Missouri Pacific and Northern Pacific.
In the local Chicago Stock Exchange, cable stocks (telephone and telegraph) attracted the most attention on May 1st. The Chicago stocks mirrored New York's in that they were heavy in railroad and transportation companies (eleven of 27), but they also included National Biscuit, Diamond Match, Tin Plate and the Masonic Temple.
The newspaper also reported on T.Bill commerce with Spain (which redeemed its Bills at an exchange rate unfavorable to the U.S.) and Germany. The business page tracked commerce in gold, spirits (whiskey), salted bellies, hay, timothy, flax, clover, green hams, rye, barley, and middlings (pork or bacon between the ham and the shoulder). No commerce between the U.S. and Japan was reported. Dry weather was noted in Russia and Kansas.
One hundred years ago, there was only one mention of the upcoming 20th century in this trade publication. On the very last day of 1899, the newspaper announced, "The publishers of the Daily Trade Bulletin desire to extend their thanks to the Commission Merchants, Provision Dealers, Packers, and Bankers of Chicago for their liberal patronage during 1899, and wish them all 'A Happy New Year' and an increased trade in all branches during 1900." There was no incident of the magnitude we are experiencing today. The most they really had to do was perhaps rewind their Regulators for another week of time-keeping continuity.
Looking around the CSI offices today, we find that our archives contain scores of bound material such as The Daily Trade Bulletin, each of which may be classified as a rare antique. In addition to collecting vintage market reports, we have been capturing electronic data since our initial incorporation in New York State, back in 1970. Our three decades in the database business have given us uncommon insight and experience in maintaining market records. We received a call just yesterday from an exchange requesting past information on their own traded products. We were happy to oblige, with material captured directly from the exchange's data feed nearly thirty years before. Very early historical data, like those found in 1899's Daily Trade Bulletin, are slowly landing in our database as we have the time to enter the material. Because of extensive background materials such as these, whenever a questionable data point surfaces, we usually have the resources to get it quickly repaired or confirmed through our on-site archives.
interesting to read the reports in these old newspapers. They seem to come from
another world, very much unlike the one we all live in today. On the other
hand, the more things change, the more they stay the same. One hundred years
ago the focus was on food and survival; today commerce has exploded a thousand
fold, but these basic human issues remain with us always.
Our users have spoken and we have listened! You wanted London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) data earlier than 7:30 p.m., so we reluctantly agreed to pay exchange fees for the privilege (see CTJ 3/99). This buys us the right to post data immediately after the market closes. Accordingly, we have moved up the release time for IPE data (Gas Oil, Brent Crude Oil, Unleaded Gas and Natural Gas) to around 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) each business day. Please see our revised Data Release Schedule, below.
World market quotes are quite expensive for CSI because the foreign exchanges that supply them charge fairly heavy exchange fees. The demand for such data is also much lighter than the demand for North American markets. Perhaps this is why CSI's competitors generally refuse to vend the foreign market information. We are on the phone virtually every day with one foreign exchange or another trying to obtain clarification of data anomalies or request missing values. You demand perfection and we do whatever we can to deliver.
Data Release Schedule
(All times Eastern - Please
allow for seasonal Daylight Savings Time adjustments)
accommodate popular demand, we have added half-dozen new LIFFE products, which
separate the Automated Pit Trading (APT) data from the day-only portion and
force the high, low and close to be quoted in a common interval. The LIFFE
markets, which trade both open outcry and Automated Pit Trading sessions now
have "open outcry only" data sets as well as data sets including APT, as
* Indicates the new additions to the database. All times are local (London).
We began tracking the new data sets on a daily basis on 990305 and have ordered history directly from the LIFFE to fill in earlier prices. We hope to have this historical data available through Unfair Advantage and QuickTrieve by the time you read this.
To get history on the new series (IPE w/out APT), users of UA World Markets should do a "History Refresh" on the above commodities. QuickTrieve users may request the data through the Order Subsystem.
These additions were
automatically added to Unfair Advantage's commodity database factsheet, and can
be manually added to QuickTrieve's Commodity Constants File. The new series'
contract specifications are the same as the older, corresponding series'