Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/447

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

During the second week in July, business was reported as of a 'midsummer character' i. e., normal, in the east, and here the temperatures for the week were nearly, or even slightly below, normal. The statement from Louisville is representative: 'A few recent days of nominal summer weather have given a spurt to retail trade.'

The third week of the heat and drought affected not only the trade of that particular week, but led to the cancellation of many orders previously given. These cancellations came from the drought-stricken districts, and were naturally a disturbing factor in the trade situation in many Western and Southern cities.

The week ending July 22 brought local showers over portions of the drought-stricken districts, and although these showers were in most cases but scattering, there was a noticeable improvement in crop outlook and business in the sections where the rains fell. A characteristic report from St. Louis (July 19) stated emphatically that 'the business situation hinged upon the question of rain.' During the week ending July 29 also, 'advices of lower temperature and moderate rains came as a great relief to business throughout the country.'

The cattle, meat, dairy and produce markets all showed marked effects of the excessively hot weather. At the very outset, the perishable nature of butter and eggs, and the shortened milk supply, caused a rise in price, which was well maintained. A number of sugar-of-milk factories shut down. Fruits and vegetables became scarce, and advanced in price. Consequently there was a great demand for canned goods, the price of which at once tended upward. This demand continued strong for many weeks, and had it not been for the drought, the year 1901 would have been a poor one for packers and jobbers of canned goods, because they had carried over a very heavy supply from the previous season. The decreased sales of fresh meat during the heated term caused an advance in the price of hides at Boston.

The drought and consequent lack of pasturage in the southwest led to record-breaking shipments of cattle and hogs to market at Kansas City, the receipts for the month exceeding those for July, 1900, by 263,000 head. This extraordinary rush of live stock resulted in an over-supply of young cattle. Buyers dictated prices. The situation in the hide market was much complicated. Tanners were able to hold down the price of hides. Smaller requirements in the way of corn for fodder, and restricted subsequent arrivals of cattle, were expected.

Of all the economic aspects of the heat and drought of July, the greatest interest attaches to the prices of stocks and cereals. During the second week of July, reports of heavy damage to corn and oats in the Missouri valley belt caused the market to 'break badly.' The heaviest declines came in the stocks of railroads which were likely to be affected