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“Weather remained largely ideal across the U.S. Corn Belt last week, as the polar vortex swept cooler-than-normal temperatures into the central Corn Belt just in time for pollination,” Morgan Stanley analysts including Bennett Meier wrote in an e-mailed report today. “Despite cooler temps, corn pollination accelerated last week.”
Corn for December delivery fell 0.6 percent to $3.8575 a bushel at 5:14 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices fell to $3.8025 yesterday, the lowest for a most-active contract since July 28, 2010, before rebounding to close 0.9 percent higher. Corn entered a bear market this month on prospects that a second straight bumper U.S. harvest will boost global supply.
Soybeans for November delivery slid 0.6 percent to $10.7975 a bushel. Prices advanced about 1 percent yesterday, snapping a 10-day decline. The oilseed dropped to $10.65 on July 11, the lowest price since October 2010.

-- Corn to Soybeans Decline as U.S. Crops in Best Shape Since 1994 [Source]

I think close is used here as an intransitive verb, the same as in 'shares in the company closed at 75 cents'. So why close 0.9 percent higher, not close by 0.9 percent higher? Is snap used figuratively here, meaning ‘to put an end to the downward trend'?

And why on prospects, not in prospects or with prospects? Since there's an appositive clause following prospects, I would think it should be the prospects.

3 Answers 3

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Yes, "close" here is being used as an intransitive verb. But I don't see why you think the word "by" should be added. "0.9 percent higher" is an adverb phrase modifying "close". Think of how it would work without the number: "close higher". You wouldn't say "close by higher". Just like you might say someone can "run faster" or "think clearly". When he quantify such a phrase, we just add the number: "run 10 miles per hour faster", "think 20% more clearly", etc.

RE "on prospects". What preposition is used with a given noun is often a matter of convention, not subject to any clear rules or patterns. We just don't say "in prospects", we say "on prospects". Yes, we also say "with prospects", and I think this too is just a matter of convention. When you are saying that something happened because of future prospects, you say "on prospects". When you are simply stating the existence of future prospects, you say "with prospects". For example, "The stock rose last week with prospects for continued future growth." But, "The stock rose last week on prospects of continued sales growth."

The use of the word "snap" here seems unconventional to me. Perhaps this is a common term when discussing commodities markets -- that's not a field I know a lot about. But in general, we say that something "snapped out" of a place or condition when it very quickly stopped having that condition, or "snapped in" when it suddenly started. Literally this refers to fasteners, like "Tab A snaps into slot B." Figuratively it can refer to any condition, like "John snapped out of his depression suddenly yesterday". So the common wording here would be, "thus snapping out of a 10-day decline". I presume the wording used is a shortened version of that phrase. As I say, whether this is a wording commonly used by commodities traders or just by this particular writer, I don't know.

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  • I misread 'close 0.9 percent higher'. I think we could say 'increase by 0.9 percent' here. I've run across 'in prospect', not 'on prospect' before.
    – Kinzle B
    Jul 16, 2014 at 7:35
  • Well, yes, the writer could have said, "Corn prices increased by 0.9 percent today". But that's a different construction. "To increase" is a very different thing from "to close", and you can't expect the same modifiers to work in the same way with both.
    – Jay
    Jul 16, 2014 at 13:57
  • Can you give an example where you've seen "in prospect"? It's certainly possible that I'm just not thinking of the right examples. I just tried a Bing search and the only examples I could find were where "prospect" was part of a place name, like "in Propect Park" and "in Prospect Heights".
    – Jay
    Jul 16, 2014 at 13:59
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Jay's answer covers the first two questions pretty well, but not your question about "snap."

"Snap" is used here idiomatically to refer to the end of a streak. This is commonly heard in sports: for example, "Seattle snapped their 10-game losing streak today with a win over Kansas City."

Here, the "10-day decline" is a streak of ten days where the price declined every day. Yesterday, they broke--or "snapped"--that streak.

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  • So I got it right. ;-)
    – Kinzle B
    Jul 21, 2014 at 15:56
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This only answers one of your three questions, but anyway...

"On" is often used idiomatically in financial reports to indicate why some price movement happened. For example,

Pharmacorp was up 10% today on news that their new medicine had passed an important regulatory hurdle.

or

TechCorp was down 5% today on rumors that next quarter's earnings will be poor.

I believe this usage is a shortened form of "on the basis of".

"On prospects" actually sounds like a mis-use of this convention to me, as we normally use it with nouns indicating sources of information, like "news", "rumors", "word", etc.

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