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Threat of US Rail Strike Starts to Shake Up Commodity Markets

  • Natural gas surges on concern about coal-supply disruptions
  • Premium for corn loaded by barge for Gulf Coast has jumped
A worker walks across the top of a railroad grain hopper car at a. transloading facility in Edinburgh, Indiana.

A worker walks across the top of a railroad grain hopper car at a. transloading facility in Edinburgh, Indiana.

Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Updated on

A potentially catastrophic strike of railroad workers across the US is starting to spook energy and commodities markets, raising the prices of everything from natural gas to corn loaded onto barges for delivery.

Natural gas futures surged 10% on Wednesday, partially driven by fears that an extended strike will curb deliveries of coal -- which generates about 22% of US electricity -- and force power generators to rely more heavily on already tight gas supplies. The premium for corn loaded by barge to be delivered to the Gulf Coast jumped nearly 5% on speculation that more will move by boat should rail cars come to a standstill.