Corn: May corn closed Friday down 2 1/2 cents at $5.77 1/4 after hitting a contract high of $5.95 earlier in the session. For the week, May corn gained 17 1/2 cents. December corn futures rose 1 3/4 cents to $4.96 1/2 after hitting a contract high of $5.03 3/4 early on, and for the week gained 12 cents. Today’s push to new contract and 7.5-year highs and then backing well off the highs to close low-range suggests the bulls may now be exhausted. However, any selling interest in the corn market in the coming weeks will likely be limited by the bullish fundamental picture. Today, USDA cut its old-crop corn ending stocks forecast by 150 million bu. from last month. Ending stocks are projected 44 million bu. lower than the average pre-report trade estimate. For 2020-21 global carryover, corn stocks are seen at 283.85 MMT; down from 287.67 MMT in March and compares with 302.99 MMT in 2019-20. Weather patterns in the U.S. Corn Belt will take center stage as corn planting will begin in earnest during this period. A couple of cold surges in the region the next 10 days will raise some frost and freeze concerns in the Midwest and may slow some planters. Safrinha corn areas of Brazil will hold in a warm and dry weather pattern for another 10 to 14 days. The need for regular rainfall there is dramatically rising.
Soybeans: Futures finished on a downdraft today, settling 8 ¼ to 12 ¼ cents lower, with old-crop leading losses. May soybean futures posted a weekly gain of a penny, and November beans closed ½ cent lower for the week. Today’s weakness in the soymeal market pulled futures lower for the week. Soyoil finished with losses in the 50-point area for the day but with modest gains for the week. Soybean futures have moved sideways over the past week, with some analysts saying the bullish supply/demand story has been factored into prices for now. Today, USDA’s unchanged U.S. soybean carryover estimate of 120 million bu. reflects still tight supplies, but this was not new news by any means. Global bean carryover came in 3.35 MMT higher than the market anticipated, with USDA raising global ending stocks by more than 3 MMT whereas analyst had expected a minor decline vs. March. The data is unlikely to have a lasting impact on prices next week, with traders likely to shift attention back to early planting efforts, weather and the likely acreage mix. Members of the national Oilseed Processors Association will also remind of strong domestic crush demand via its monthly crush report next week.
Wheat: May soft red winter wheat futures closed the day up 10 cents at $6.38 3/4 and a technically bullish weekly high close, and for the week rose 27 1/4 cents. May hard red winter wheat futures rose 10 cents to $5.86 1/2, also closing at a bullish high-range weekly close and for the week gaining 21 1/2 cents. Spring wheat futures rose 13 3/4 cents on Friday to $6.54, soaring 54 1/2 cents for the week. It was a good week for the wheat market bulls, so look for some follow-through technical buying early next week. The wheat market will continue to look to the corn and soybean markets for direction. For 2020-21 global carryover, wheat stocks are pegged at 295.52 MMT; down from 301.19 MMT in March and compares with 300.04 MMT in 2019-20. Usage this year will exceed production for a second year. The 6.3 MMT difference is the greatest since the 2012-13 season.
Cotton: May cotton rallied 99 points to 82.40 cents on Friday extending this week’s rally to 445 points. December futures rose 66 points to 81.78 cents, capping a 386-point weekly advance. Cotton futures extended weekly gains on Friday after USDA hiked its U.S. export outlook more than most expected and reduced its ending stocks forecast. However, the agency trimmed its average cash price a penny to 68 cents from its March estimate. But given the pace of export sales and shipments, USDA may be another 200,000 bales too low on exports and 200,000 bales too high on ending stocks. With further cuts likely from the current four-year low in carryover supplies, the market should remain well supported into the planting season. USDA trimmed its world carryover estimate 1.1 million bales from last month on Friday.
Hogs: Lean hog futures finished mixed to mostly firmer today after touching to new contract highs. For the week, April hogs rallied $1.70 to $103.475. June hogs firmed $2.625 to $108.95. Hog futures remain overbought, signaling a downside price correction could come at any point. But until the cash and product markets signal they are running out of steam, the downside is limited for futures. Funds are likely to wait until there are fundamental or technical signs of a top before they actively liquidate long positions. With the pork cutout above $114, pork is relatively expensive compared with beef and chicken heading into the key grilling season. Normally that would be a major concern. But pork demand is being supported by a reopening of restaurants and foodservices as Covid restrictions are lifted.
Cattle: June cattle fell $2.45 on Friday to close at $122.575 and paring the weekly gain to just 2.5 cents after prices rose to a new contract high at $125.625. May feeders fell $1.975 to close at $149.625 on Friday bit still up 40 cents this week. Live cattle futures left buying exhaustions on the weekly charts this week. That’s a disappointment after cash bids firmed to $122 to $124 this week on increased sales volumes and packer demand. Prices are up some $7 in the past three weeks. It has been a very long time since the cattle feeding industry has watched beef packers competing for supplies as occurred this week. Choice beef cutouts surged nearly $19 this week, touching $271.83 at midday on Friday. That’s the fourth straight weekly advance from the March low at $224.77. Beef exports have been trending above a year ago week after week and food service buyers are scrambling to refill their supply
Corn: May corn jumped 19 1/4 cents to $5.79 3/4 and December rallied 9 1/4 cents to $4.94 ¾. Corn prices followed wheat higher overnight and then surged sharply higher after the reopening. Strengthening cash basis bids and western Midwest ethanol plants pushing bids rallied old-crop futures. The market is trying to entice some pre-planting cash sales. Some of the buying was tied to fresh fund buying and talk of new overseas demand ahead of the USDA’s Supply & Demand update Friday morning. There were unconfirmed rumors China was asking for offers for old-crop corn for late summer shipment and maybe some new-crop shopping. Agricultural commodities are poised for a “mini supercycle” as China’s rampant demand keeps supplies tight, according to Alex Sanfeliu, head of Cargill’s trading unit, Bloomberg reported today. Commodity Weather Group this morning reiterated their outlook for a hot and dry U.S. summer, due to North American Multi-model Ensemble weather update today.
Soybeans: May soybeans gained 6 1/2 cents at $14.15 3/4 a bushel today. Prices closed nearer the session high today. May soybean meal closed down $1.30 at $406.80 today and May bean oil gained 53 points at 53.38 cents. Selling interest in the futures markets was limited today ahead of Friday’s USDA’s Supply & Demand Report due out at 11:00 a.m. CDT. Traders will be looking for USDA to trim its old-crop U.S. soybean carryover projection marginally from an already tight 120 million bu. last month. There will be no new-crop USDA projections until the May WASDE report. USDA’s planting intentions survey showed farmers planned to sow about 2.4 million fewer acres of U.S. soybeans than traders had expected. New-crop November soybean futures continue to consolidate above the prior highs from early March but may need a fresh weather scare or demand news event to begin trending higher.
Wheat: May SRW wheat rose 12 1/2 cents to $6.28 3/4, May HRW rallied 13 1/4 cents to $5.76 1/2 and May spring wheat was up 15 3/4 cents to $6.40 1/4. Prices rallied overnight and held strong through the session on unexpected Chinese buying of U.S. wheat in today’s USDA weekly export sales report. There were also rumors that China is asking for offers on HRW wheat for summer delivery. Earlier this week. USDA reported 130,000 MT of SRW wheat sold to an unknown buyer, which many now assume was China as they rebuild stockpiles after auctioning government reserves to boost feed supplies deflate record domestic corn prices. The official Chinese government agency this morning raised their estimate of wheat feeding for the season to 38 MMT, up from 22.5 MMT last season.
Cotton: Futures rallied today, pushing to the highest level since March 25 and settling high-range and up 107 to 191 points for the day. Old-crop export sales of cotton at 269,900 RB the week ending April 1 were up 8% from the week prior with USDA also reporting 49,000 RB in sales for 2021-22. Perhaps more importantly, export shipments jumped 11% from the prior four-week average to 371,700 RB. With 17 weeks remaining in the 2020-21 marketing year, accumulated exports of upland cotton account for 69% of USDA’s forecast for the season. That’s well ahead of the usual 59% for this point in the season. Aggressive exports to date paired with expectations for another cut to the 2020-21 cotton crop have analysts expecting a 90,000-bale reduction to its U.S. ending stocks forecast for 2020-21
Hogs : June lean hogs rose $0.80 at $108.70 today. Prices closed near the session high today and hit another contract high. The powerful bull run in lean hog futures rolls on—now the third-strongest bull move in hog futures in the 51-year history of trading—and prices are still climbing. Tightening U.S. hog supplies and notions African swine fever will keep China as a major buyer of U.S. pork remain the supportive elements. However, this morning’s weekly USDA pork export sales were disappointing. Pork sales last week fell 45% from last week’s marketing-year high and were 22% below the prior four-week average. While Mexico continued to be an active buyer, Chinese net purchases slowed to 1,200 MT, down from nearly 30,000 MT a week earlier.
Cattle: Live cattle futures finished widely mixed with prices ranging from 25 cents lower to $1 higher through the December contract. Feeder cattle posted losses of 27 1/2 cents to $1.075. April live cattle futures were supported by strengthening cash cattle and wholesale beef prices. Cash cattle traded mostly in the $121 to $122 range earlier this week, though asking prices for unsold showlists are reportedly priced at $123 and up. Boxed beef prices continue to surge, with Choice values pushing to what would be record levels aside from last year’s Covid-induced price explosion. Strengthening cash fundamentals give funds a reason to grow their net long position in the live cattle market that was at 78,651 futures contracts as of March 30 and has grown from there.
Corn: Old-crop corn futures spent much of the day in positive territory and settled high-range and up 5 to 6 1/4 cents. New-crop futures saw two-sided action before finishing high-range and up 1 to 2 1/4 cents. Corn futures have consolidated the past few days as traders prepared for another round of USDA reports at week’s end. But the trend of the market and underlying fundamentals continue to point futures higher. The market expects USDA to cut old-crop corn carryover 106 million bu. from March, according to survey-work by Reuters, with analysts saying data would support hikes to exports, feed/residual use and ethanol grind. Ethanol production climbed another 10,000 barrels per day to 975,000 bpd last week, reminding that demand is improving as the U.S. economy reopens. Ethanol inventories dropped 472,000 barrels to 20.642 million barrels.
Soybeans: Soybean futures were lower, with mixed trends in meal and oil. May beans fell 10 cents to $14.08 3/4 and November futures fell 1/2 cents to $12.70 1/2. May meal rallied $2.70 to $409.10 and May soyoil futures were down 107 to 52.85 cents. Lacking any compelling weather stories, markets remain on hold ahead of Friday’s monthly Supply & Demand Report. Few speculators want to add to long positions. Average estimates are looking for fractionally lower for soybean carryover and small cuts in South American soybean crops. Brazil’s CONAB will update its crop production forecasts tomorrow. Brazil is on track for an all-time-high soybean crop this year, although harvesting and shipments have been delayed due to rains. Consultancy Agroconsult reported Brazilian farmers will harvest an estimated 137.1 MMT of soybeans, a record volume despite weather-related challenges. Meanwhile, Brazil will likely boost soybean plantings by 1.5 million hectares (3.9%) in 2021-22, pushing planted acreage to 40 million hectares, according to a USDA attaché.
Wheat: Wheat futures were led higher by the HRS market, which firmed 10 1/2 to 13 1/2 cents through the December contract. HRW contracts were 7 3/4 to 8 1/2 cents higher, while SRW futures closed 3/4 to 4 1/2 cents higher. HRS futures were supported by dryness concerns in the Northern Plains as spring wheat planting gets started. Spring wheat planting was a point ahead of the five-year average as of March 28, but traders are concerned not all intended acres will get planted if there isn’t relief from dryness. As of April 1, much of HRS country was covered by some form of dryness/drought, including all of top producing North Dakota. Forecasts signal dry conditions will persist across the Northern Plains for the next two weeks, with rains possible after April 20. Traders will also be watching an expected cold blast across the central U.S. early next week.
Cotton: May cotton futures closed the day up 28 points at 79.50 cents and December futures gained 63 points at 80.04 cents. Prices closed near mid-range in the May and nearer the session high in the December. The cotton market bulls have shown some resilience recently by keeping futures trading sideways after prices slumped from late-February through March. The cotton bulls need to keep prices above very important chart support at the March lows, which keeps alive chances for a recovery in the market in the coming weeks. Look for quieter trading Thursday, ahead of Friday’s USDA supply and demand updates. Traders on average are looking for U.S. cotton ending stocks to fall to 4.11 million bales from 4.2 million forecast a month ago, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Hogs: April hogs were up 82.5 cents to $102.875 and June futures jumped $2.275 to $107.90. The rally continued with several contracts rising to new highs. Prices are following the lead of the cash markets and pork cutouts. The national price was quoted up $1.11 at midday today on aggressive packer demand. The pork cutout value jumped $3.02 at noon to $112.41, the highest since the pandemic shortages last May. Bellies continue to lead the market higher, but hams, ribs and picnics were also sold at higher prices today. Sales yesterday rose to almost 414 carloads, the most in month and today’s midday sales were active despite the price gains. Wholesale belly prices have more than doubled since the end of 2020. The good news is the retail bacon prices have not matched the wholesale belly rally.
Cattle: June live cattle closed up $0.65 at $125.275 today. Prices closed near the session high and hit another contract high. May feeder cattle closed up $0.90 at $152.675 today. Prices closed nearer the session high today. Cattle futures are pricing in the rally in cash and beef markets as the long-term outlook remains positive. Cash cattle trade got started at $121 in Kansas on Tuesday, with the early start hinting packers were short-bought on needs. That’s up a sharp $4 from prices last week in the state. Choice beef shot up another $2.55 at noon on Wednesday, with Select jumping $3.01. Movement was 74 loads. Today’s cattle slaughter is estimated at 120,000 head versus 119,000 head last Wednesday and 101,000 one year ago at this time.
Corn: May corn futures closed up 1 cent at $5.54 1/4 today and December futures lost 5 1/4 cents at $4.83 1/4. Prices closed near their daily lows. The new-crop corn futures saw pressure today as early U.S. planting chances still look solid with dry conditions for most and a generally favorable forecast into mid-April. Forecast maps for the U.S. do bring in plenty of rain chances for the Midwest in the next ten days, to slow very early progress for corn planting, though overall wetness doesn’t appear to be an issue beyond April 15. Corn planting was estimated to be 2% completed as of Sunday, in line with the historical average. Friday’s monthly USDA supply and demand report is likely to show USDA cutting its old-crop corn carryover forecast about 120 million bu. from 1.502 billion bu. estimated a month earlier.
Soybeans: Soybean futures finished in the middle to lower end of today’s ranges with gains of 2 1/2 to 6 cents through the September contract. New-crop November futures ended 2 1/4 cents higher. Meal futures closed 40 cents higher to $3.50 lower through the December contract. Soyoil firmed 60 to 111 points through the December contract. Soybeans followed the lead of soyoil higher today. But much like yesterday, buyer interest faded late and futures came well off their highs into the close. The lack of sustained buyer interest the first two days this week signals bulls are seeking some fresh bullish news. Much of the price action the next two days will likely be positioning ahead of USDA’s Supply & Demand Report on Friday. Traders aren’t expecting any significant changes to USDA’s old-crop soybean ending stocks forecast this month, though there could be some movement within the usage categories.
Wheat: May SRW wheat closed down 2 1/2 cents at $6.15 1/2 today. Prices closed nearer the session low today. May HRW wheat closed down 7 cents today at $5.55 1/2. Prices closed at a four-month-low close. Spring wheat futures closed about 3 cents lower today. The wheat market bears are pressing their case a bit more this week, as the near-term technicals have turned negative with both SRW and HRW futures trending lower on the daily charts the past month. USDA reported Monday 53% of the U.S winter wheat crop was rated “good” and “excellent.” The surprise was not that 53% of the crop was rated in the top categories, but that 16% of the crop was rated “poor” and “very poor,” with nearly all of that wheat being HRW located in the Plains.
Cotton: Futures end higher but near mid-range. May cotton rose 134 points to 79.22 cents and December gained 154 points to 79.41 cents. Cotton moved sharply higher after the steep drop in March pushed prices down to key support and encouraged short covering. There was little overhead selling interest on the rally this morning, allowing prices to surge in early trading before paring gains into the close. The CFTC Commitments of Traders report showed funds were net sellers of more than 5,000 contracts in the week ended March 30. Net-long positions fell to a five-month low of 54,472 contracts, down sharply from the peak of more than 74,500 net long five weeks earlier.
Hogs: Lean hog futures saw two-sided trade today before settling high-range and up 2 ½ cents to $1.45 in all but the April contract. The front-month contract also finished high range but with a 30-cent loss for the day. Lean hog futures have surged higher since December, with the market posting a series of new contract highs in recent days, including yesterday. Today, the market saw some profit-taking, with a pullback in the pork cutout value and national cash hog prices to start the week adding incentive to that end. This morning, the pork cutout value rose 53 cents and, even more impressive, movement picked up to 234.72 loads. That helped futures to a high-range finish. Packer profit margins remain in the black at $8.15 a head, according to HedgersEdge.com. April. You should also have 50% of meal needs for May through August covered in the cash market.
Cattle: Firmer with new highs in several live cattle contracts. June cattle rose 20 cents to $124.625 and August was up 7.5 cents to $123.425. May feeders closed unchanged at $151.775. Cash cattle bids are firming with a $121 bid and trade in Kansas by regional packers today bodes well for stronger cash prices this week with prices finally rising above the $120 level for the first time in a year. Boxed beef values are strong, supported by terrific demand and also helped by high pork prices. At mid-morning today, the Choice cutout rose another $3.30 to almost $262, the highest price since the shortage created during the pandemic production problems. Steaks and trimmings are leading.
Corn: Futures ended mixed and well below overnight highs. May corn was down 6 1/2 cents to $5.53 1/4 and December rose 4 cents to $4.88 1/2. May futures fell on rolling of positions out of the nearby contract with the index rolls set to begin Thursday and a sharp decline in crude oil futures amid OPEC+ plans to expand production. May lost to December futures despite steady-to-firm cash basis. Funds boosted net longs in corn futures and options to 395,584 contracts from 388,175 a week earlier when most expected net selling. That is the funds’ most optimistic corn stance since Feb. 1, 2011. December corn rose to a new contract high as traders refocused on supply worries after the markets were closed on Friday. Most-active May corn futures fell a second day, after hitting its highest price since June 2013 at $5.85 a bushel on April 1. The April 9 WASDE report will likely show USDA cutting its old-crop carryover forecast, with upward revisions to exports, feed/residual use and the U.S. ethanol grind.
Soybeans: May soybeans closed up 10 3/4 cents at $14.12 3/4 a bushel today. Prices closed near mid-range. May soybean meal closed down $3.90 at $406.30 today and near the session low. May soybean oil rose 68 points at 52.81 cents and nearer the session high. The soybean and oil bulls were still riding the effects of last week’s surprisingly bullish USDA planting intentions report and also by a decline in the U.S. dollar index. The meal market bulls have quickly faded, however. Selling interest will likely be limited this week, heading into Friday’s USDA Supply & Demand Report. Bullish traders are looking for USDA to trim its old-crop soybean carryover projection slightly from an earlier record low stock-to-use ratio. There will be no new-crop USDA projections until the May WASDE report.
Wheat: Wheat futures ended mixed with SRW futures up 3 1/2 to 7 1/4 cents and spring wheat rising 6 1/4 to 8 3/4 cents. HRW futures were down about 2 cents today. SRW futures led the rally today after USDA announced 120,000 MT of that class of wheat was sold to unknown destinations for new-crop delivery. Some speculated that could be new Chinese business amid rumors last week they were shopping. China has sold 25 MMT of wheat from its reserve this calendar year, but the trade is unsure of whether China will continue to purchase U.S. wheat as they will likely drain supplies first from France and then move onto Russia, Ukraine and Canada. Saudi Arabia bought almost 300,000 MT of wheat for May and June delivery during the weekend and Egypt is tendering tonight for August deliveries.
Cotton: Cotton futures got off to a firmer start but buying faded as the day progressed and futures settled low-range and down 9 points to up 13 points through the March 2022 contract. Most contracts spent the day within the lower half of Thursday’s defensive trading range. Cotton futures have moved sideways to lower since mid-February, with USDA’s Prospective Plantings Report last week giving traders little reason to buck the trend. USDA said its survey work signaled producers planned to plant around 12.04 million acres to cotton in 2021, which was a bit higher than expected and just a modest decline from 2020 plantings. But much of western Texas continues to deal with drought, and longer-range forecasts are not promising for relief.
Hogs: June lean hog futures closed down $0.725 at $105.60 after hitting another contract high early on today. July hogs fell $0.925 at $104.225. Lean hog futures saw some mild profit taking and a corrective pullback today from recent solid gains. Prices are still supported, however, by solid U.S. pork exports, including recent sales to China. Summer hog futures contracts posted tops in April during 2004, 2010, 2011, and 2019, but highs in May are more typical. The pork cutout value rose another $5.31 to $113.75 today, led by gains in hams and bellies. Movement was a light 121.47 loads. Cash hog prices were up 16 cents today, on average, on a national direct basis.
Cattle: Live cattle futures finished high-range with gains of $1.35 to $1.875 through the December contract, as all but the April contract posted new highs. Feeder cattle also ended high-range with gains of $1.925 to $2.55 through the November contract. Fundamental support for the move higher in cattle futures came from strength in the cash and product markets. Cash cattle trade averaged $118.08 last week, up $2.89 from the previous week. If futures are able to build on today’s gains, it should support higher cash prices again this week. Additional support came from surging boxed beef prices. Choice beef was up $4.84 this morning, while Select firmed $1.66, though movement was light at just 59 loads. With Lent done, retailers will be buying meat for grilling season features. Wholesale beef prices are elevated, but relatively cheap compared with pork values, which are also rising.
Corn: Corn futures finished widely mixed today amid bull spread unwinding. May and July corn ended 4 1/2 and 2 1/4 cents lower, respectively, while new-crop December corn firmed 7 cents. For the week, May corn futures firmed 7 1/4 cents to $5.59 3/4 but ended 25 1/4 cents off the high. December corn futures rallied 18 cents to $4.84 1/2, though that was 8 1/2 cents off today’s high for the week. Price action the final two days this week signals traders are concerned about March planting intentions not being enough to fix the tightening supply situation. With that in mind, downside risk is likely limited for new-crop corn futures. But today’s price action also suggests the bullish old-crop situation is already priced in the market. Bulls need some fresh bullish fodder in the April 9 Supply & Demand Report to push old-crop contracts to new highs and spark a breakout from the extended sideways trading range.
Soybeans: May beans ended down 34 3/4 cents to $14.02 but up 1 1/2 cents for the week. November beans gained 7 1/2 cents to $12.63 3/4 and up 56 1/2 cents this week. May meal gained $6.20 to $410.20 this week while May soyoil futures were down 35 points to 52.13 cents, a second straight weekly decline after hitting new contract highs last week. Old-crop soybeans retreated but new-crop November extended gains today as traders digested the USDA data Wednesday showing farmers plan to sow fewer-than-expected acres. A slower weekly export pace also contributed to the weakness this morning after prices jumped sharply higher overnight after both beans and meal closed limit up on Wednesday. The failure of May soybeans to follow November into new highs was a technical sell signal given the bullish acreage news and selling snowballed through the session with prices closing near session lows. Some easing in Gulf cash premiums also added to caution despite the record pace of soybean export shipments and crushings already this marketing year.
Wheat: Wheat futures took their cue from corn and soybeans for a second day. Wheat rallied early in the overnight session but turned down when buying in the corn and bean markets faltered. HRS wheat futures posted losses of 11 ¼ to 12 ¼ cents today. HRW finished 9 ½ to 10 ¾ cents lower and SRW wheat posted losses of roughly 5 to 7 cents. After a wide-ranging week of trade, May SRW wheat futures ended just 2 ¼ cents lower for the week. Next week will be another busy one. On Monday, USDA will release its first national Crop Progress and Condition rating update of the year. A number of state offices updated their ratings last week, and a comparison to USDA’s last Nov. 30 shows a wide mix of improvement and degradation. But top-producing Kansas has seen a 17-point jump in the amount of crop rated “good” to “excellent” over that timeframe. USDA’s balance sheet update on April 9 will be another focus, though wheat may again take its cue from corn and soybeans.
Cotton: May cotton closed down 293 points at 77.95 cents today. Prices closed near the session low today and hit a three-month-low. Prices also scored a bearish “outside day” down on the daily bar chart today. Serious near-term and some long-term technical damage has been inflicted in cotton recently to suggest a market top is in place. For the week, May cotton lost 243 points. Look for follow-through selling pressure early next week following today’s bearish weekly low closes in cotton futures. The cotton market saw pressure today in part after USDA reported U.S. net cotton sales of 78,400 running bales (RB) for the 2020/2021 marketing year that were down 71 percent from the previous week and from the prior four-week average. Tensions between the U.S. and China remain elevated.
Hogs: April futures gained 72.5 cents to $101.775, capping a 97.5-cent weekly gain. June futures rallied $1.025 to $106.325 and up 72.5 cents this holiday-shortened week. Most contracts hit new highs this week. USDA reported pork export sales last week jumped 43% above the four-week average to 61,000 MT, a new high for the year. China bought nearly half of the total and that will provide fresh support to the trade to start April. A wave of African swine fever outbreaks this year has wiped out at least 20% of the breeding herd in northern China, industry sources and analysts told Reuters, exceeding expected losses and raising fears about the potential for further impact in the south. Packer profit margins have tightened over the past week, dropping to $7.25 per head from $14.45 the week prior.
Cattle: June live cattle closed 35 cents lower at $122.55 today. Prices closed near the session low on mild profit taking after hitting a contract high in early trading. For the week, June cattle gained 77.5 cents. May feeder cattle futures closed down 17.5 cents at $149.225 today. Prices closed nearer the session low today and saw mild profit taking after hitting a contract high on Tuesday. For the week, May feeders fell 65 cents. It was another good week for the cattle market bulls, which should provide for some follow-through buying interest in cattle futures markets early next week. Cash cattle trade as of this writing remained slow on light demand. But sales were quoted as high as $118 in Nebraska or $1 to $3 higher for the week. In the Plains cattle markets had seen some light sales between $116 and $117. Boxed beef prices at noon today extended their impressive rallies.
Corn: Corn futures prices closed up the 25-cent daily trading limit today. May futures closed at $5.64 1/4 and December futures at $4.77 1/2. May futures also registered a contract-high close and a technically bullish monthly and quarterly high close today. Daily trading limits expand to 40 cents for corn on Thursday. The corn market bulls needed a shot of bullish news and they got that and then some today. The USDA Prospective Plantings Report showed U.S. corn planted acres as 91.144 million, well below the average trade expectation of 93.208 million acres. That compares to 90.819 mil. acres planted in 2020. Given strong new-crop prices, we anticipate corn acres will increase from USDA’s March intentions, especially if spring weather is favorable for planting. Meantime, the USDA Quarterly Grain Stocks Report showed corn supplies at 7.701 billion bu., whereas traders expected 7.767 billion bushels. That’s down more than 250 million bu. from year-ago.
Soybeans: Soybean futures had a strong bullish reaction to USDA’s reports, finishing up the 70-cent daily trading limit. Soymeal futures finished sharply higher to up the $25 daily limit. Soyoil futures ended sharply higher to up their 250 point daily limit. Trading limits expand to $1.05 for soybeans, $40 for soymeal and 400 points for soyoil during Thursday’s session, which is the last trading day for the week since markets are closed Friday. USDA’s March soybean planting intentions came in far short of what traders expected – and frankly what is needed to ease supply tightness. USDA estimates farmers intend to plant 87.6 million acres to soybeans this year. While that would be up 4.5 million acres from last year, the highest since 89.2 million acres in 2018 and the third highest on record, it was 2.4 million acres lower than traders anticipated. Obviously, more acres and/or less use would be needed as there is no margin for a production hiccup.
Wheat: May SRW futures rose 16 3/4 cents to $6.18, May HRW was up 17 1/4 cents to $5.75 3/4 and May spring wheat futures gained 9 cents to $6.10 3/4. Wheat futures followed limit-bid corn and soybean futures to the upside on speculation feed demand will increase this summer both here at home and around the globe. There was some talk of SRW wheat sales increasing to Southeast hog and poultry feeders. It also could lead to fewer spring wheat plantings. Prices also found support from a flurry of international tenders. The weather conditions are shifting to warmer and drier and that may provide additional support if sustained into May. Farmers told USDA they intend to plant 510,000 fewer acres to spring wheat this year, though that would be around 100,000 acres more than traders anticipated and our survey indicated.
Cotton: May cotton rose 24 points to 80.88 cents and December rallied 118 points to 80.10 cents. Cotton futures reversed earlier steep declines, closing higher. Cotton largely followed the limit-up gains in corn and soybeans despite a lack of fresh bullish news in today’s USDA prospective plantings report. The grain market rallies may lead to final cotton plantings falling below today’s intentions. Cotton plantings are expected to be down just a tick from last year and 131,000 acres higher than pre-report expectations. Cotton acreage intentions came in 164,000 acres fewer than our survey indicated. Cotton acres are expected to drop 18,000 acres in Texas to 6.82 million acres. Cotton plantings are expected to rise 10,000 acres in Georgia to 1.2 million acres.
Hogs: June lean hogs closed down 72 1/2 cents at $105.30 today, with the rest of the market finishing narrowly mixed. Most contracts settled high-range. Spot cash hog and pork product markets are beginning to weaken, putting some pressure on the futures’ premiums. Cash hog prices slipped another 37 cents this morning, on a national direct average. However, losses in futures were limited as the pork cutout value rose a solid $4.71 to $110.01 per cwt. on movement of 186.89 loads at midday today. Hams led the gainers. Today’s hog slaughter was estimated at 492,000 head compared to 486,000 last Wednesday and 476,000 head a year ago at this time. Futures’ premiums suggest that hog supplies are unlikely to rise above demand
Cattle: April cattle closed unchanged at $120.975 and June rose 67.5 cents to $122.90. May feeders fell $2.80 to $149.40. Live cattle futures were quiet today, but closing higher in all contracts but April. Feeder cattle futures tumbled sharply lower after today’s USDA planting intentions report showed farmers intend to plant fewer corn acres than anticipated by the trade. The Fed Cattle Exchange auction reported a top trade at $118 this morning, up about $2 from last week and a positive support for cattle. Wholesale beef prices are rising quickly, up about $12 from a week ago. Choice rose 70 cents at midday and Select was up $1.63 on moderate sales. The rib and the loin primals are up sharply even from a week ago, $24, and $18, respectively. Beef trimmings are up almost $13 in the past week as processed meat companies change their formulation away from pork to cheaper beef.
Corn: March corn fell 7 1/2 cents to $5.39 1/4 and December futures were down 8 3/4 cents to $4.52 1/2. Corn fell today on chart-based selling, a firmer dollar and long liquidation in front of tomorrow’s USDA reports. The dollar index rallied to a fresh five-month high today, after yields on 10-year Treasuries hit fresh 14-month highs near 1.78%. Crude oil prices were down nearly 2% at midday and gold prices tumbled almost $30, further curbing speculative buying based on a reflation play. Before the reopening USDA announced 100,800 MT of corn were sold to unknown destinations for old-crop delivery but that failed to provide much support today as Chinese corn futures fell to a new low price for the calendar year overnight. Tomorrow we will see what the record Chinese buying did to March 1 U.S. corn stocks and farmer planting intentions.
Soybeans : May soybeans closed down 26 1/4 cents today at $13.66 3/4 a bushel. November beans fell below $12.00 for the first time since Feb. 22, closing at $11.86 1/4. May soybean meal futures closed up a dime at $398.20 today. May bean oil closed down 250-point limit at 50.46 cents today. Long liquidation in futures was the feature Tuesday, ahead of the USDA planted acreage survey and March 1 stocks estimates on Wednesday morning. Funds had boosted their net long in soybean futures and options by nearly 7,000 contracts to 162,853 contracts, though the overall position has not materially changed in more than two months. Weather leans negative. Argentina got the rains forecast and drier weather the next two weeks will aid harvesting. A dry bias in Brazil the next week will support rapid soybean harvesting.
Wheat: Wheat futures faced pressure today. SRW wheat was the leader to the downside and finished with losses of 11 ½ to 15 cents for the day. The front-month hit its lowest level in more than three months and the July contract closed below $6.00 for the first time since Dec. 16. HRW wheat also dropped to multi-month lows and finished 9 ¾ to 11 cents lower. Spring wheat futures finished 7 to 9 cents lower, after dropping to the lowest point since early January/late December. Positioning for month’s end and USDA’s much-anticipated Quarterly Grain Stocks and Prospective Plantings reports weighed heavily on a number of raw commodities today, wheat included. Analysts surveyed by Reuters expect the department to report other spring wheat plantings around 11.644 million acres, which would be down 4.9% from year-ago. But the range of guesses is wide, spanning nearly 2 million acres. Tight corn stocks have also boosted feed use and made quarterly grain stocks more of a question mark.
Cotton: Cotton futures finished a quiet, two-sided day of trade with gains of 15 to 27 points through the December contract. On the surface, today’s price action the cotton market doesn’t appear to be much. But given heavy selling across much of the commodity sector and additional strong gains in the U.S. dollar index, the modest gains in cotton were actually rather impressive.Focus on Wednesday will be USDA’s Prospective Plantings Report. Traders expect USDA to signal producers intend to plant 11.9 million acres to cotton this year, according to a Reuters survey, down from 12.1 million acres last year. Our acreage survey suggested plantings would rise slightly to 12.2 million acres.
Hogs: April lean hogs rose $0.55 to close at $100.025 today and closed at a contract-high close. June hogs closed up $0.80 at $106.025 today and hit a contract high. The rallying cash hog market is supporting gains in futures. The CME’s lean hog index is up to $97.38, a little more than $3 behind nearby April futures with a little more than two weeks to expiration. Cash hog bids rose $2.11 on average, today. The pork cutout value edged 63 cents higher on strong sales of 238.93 loads. Today’s hog slaughter is estimated at 490,000 head compared with 465,000 last Tuesday and 491,000 head one year ago at this time.
Cattle: April live cattle closed unchanged at $120.975 and June slipped 42.5 cents to $122.225. May feeders were unchanged at $152.20. Futures were well contained inside of Monday’s ranges but lacked much fresh buying interest to add to recent gains. While negotiated fed cattle prices broke out of a tedious seven-week trading range, packers are waiting to bid until later this week with feeders asking higher money this week. Packers were enticed by tightening supplies of market-ready cattle last week to extend their purchases. Last week saw 100,000 head trade for only the second time this year. But the spread between cash and futures must narrow in to less than $2.50 to discourage deliveries against the April contract.
Corn: Old-crop corn futures finished midrange with losses of 4 1/2 to 5 3/4 cents. New-crop December futures ended low-range and down 5 1/4 cents for the day. Buyer interest was limited in the corn market today as traders didn’t want to add new long positions ahead of USDA’s key prospective plantings and March 1 stocks on Wednesday. There’s a lot of anxiety over the report data, especially March 1 corn stocks. Analysts have widely missed forecasts of quarterly corn stocks for years, and USDA has made major revisions to previous quarters the past two reports. Funds lightened their net length in a continuation of such action from late last week after CFTC data showed they mildly built long positions into March 23. Another day of position evening is likely on Tuesday.
Soybeans: May beans fell 7 1/2 cents to $13.93 and November was down 2 3/4 cents to $12.04 1/2. May meal fell $5.90 to $398.10 and May soyoil was 48 points to 52.96 cents. Soybeans opened steady to firm overnight and retreated into midsession on talk of Brazilian bean and Argentine soyoil imports, good weather in South America for harvest and weaker Chinese prices. Rising tensions with China are raising demand concerns. Traders are uncertain the USDA data this week will provide much fresh market direction, but they expect the agency to confirm the tighter balance sheets. A stronger dollar this month is curbing speculative interest in commodities as a hedge against inflation. Much of the selling was tied to funds liquidating longs ahead of USDA’s planting intentions and quarterly stocks reports on Wednesday morning.
Wheat: May SRW wheat closed up 3 1/2 cents at $6.16 3/4 today. Prices closed nearer the session high today and hit a three-month low early on. May HRW wheat closed up 1 1/4 cents today at $5.69 1/2. Prices closed nearer the session high today and hit a 3.5-month low. Spring wheat futures closed about 3 cents lower. Winter wheat crop conditions across much of the Northern Hemisphere are improving and limiting buying interest in futures. Some planting will begin for early-season crops in the northern Plains and Canada’s Prairies, but only if significant rain falls. That remains questionable since the advertised event is a week away for the northern Plains. Warming is needed in Canada to raise soil temperatures. Limited winterkill has been observed in Russia, Europe and China, with a mostly good-looking India crop seen.
Cotton: May cotton futures rose 11 points today to close at 80.49 cents and December futures lost 9 points at 78.65 cents. Prices closed near mid-range Monday. The recent rally in the U.S. dollar index that hit a 4.5-month high today, the slide in crude oil prices and Chinese anger over banned Xinjiang cotton have caused the cotton futures market bulls to become very cautious. There has been talk mills took advantage of the recent price weakness to fix on-call sales and buy cotton for delivery for several months. Look for more quiet trading on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s USDA planting intentions report.
Hogs: Futures were lower but near midrange at the close. April futures fell 42.5 cents to $100.375 and June slumped 37.5 cents to $105.225. USDA’s Quarterly Hogs & Pigs Report led to another round of new contract highs Friday and today longs are cashing profits ahead of the quarter’s end on Wednesday. But the recent acceleration to near historical highs means the rally may be nearing an end, despite seasonal trends supporting firmer prices into May. The market has been driven by the stronger domestic and export demand this year and the smaller U.S. inventory should keep futures firm for the next several weeks.Cash hogs were down an average of 57 cents at direct markets Monday. Pork cutout values continued to push higher, rising $3.95 at midday.
Cattle: Live cattle futures settled high-range but off session highs with gains of 60 cents to 87 ½ cents. June and August futures hit new contract highs today. Feeder cattle rallied to new contract highs and settled up $1.15 to $2.325, with the May contract leading gains. Follow-through buying bolstered the live and feeder cattle markets after the markets posted technically bullish weekly high closes Friday. Traders were encouraged by a long-anticipated rise in cash prices last week that generated an average price of $115.59, up $1.36 from the week prior. That marks the highest cash price since last May. Nearby feeder cattle futures are trading at an even wider premium to the feeder cattle cash index. Feeder steers traded $2 to $4 higher at an Oklahoma City auction today, amid good demand.
Corn: May corn futures closed the day up 6 cents at $5.52 1/2 and for the week lost 5 1/4 cents. December corn futures today rose a penny to $4.66 1/2 and for the week lost a nickel. May corn closed near the week’s high, while December corn finished Friday near the weekly low. December corn prices have been trending down for over two weeks, which is a worrisome element for the corn market bulls. Trading Monday and Tuesday is likely to be quiet ahead of Wednesday morning’s all-important USDA stocks and planting intentions reports. Traders are looking for U.S. corn plantings to rise to 93.208 million acres, according to the average of traders polled by Reuters. That would be up from 90.8 million last year and close to our survey estimate of 93.4 million acres. March 1 corn inventories are expected to fall to 7.767 billion bu. from 7.952 billion a year ago, according to a Reuters poll. The range of estimates was 7.573 billion to 7.980 billion, opening the potential for surprises next week is this highly volatile report history.
Soybeans : Soybean futures softened as the day progressed and the market settled low-range and down 6 to 13 3/4 cents through the January contract, with old-crop leading the decline. May beans posted a weekly loss of 15 3/4 cents to $14.00 1/2 and November beans dropped 12 3/4 to $12.07 1/4. Soymeal futures ended 60 cents lower in the front-month May contract and 30 cents to $2.50 higher in deferred months today. Soyoil futures posted heavy losses of 131 to 250 points. USDA’s Prospective Plantings and Grains Stocks Reports next Wednesday will be at focal point. Traders expect a big increase in soybean planting intentions, but the key is “how much” of an increase USDA estimates. March 1 soybean stocks will be sharply below year-ago levels, but with a 385-million-bu. range of analysts’ estimates, somebody is going to be surprised. Traders’ other focus will be the soyoil market. After surging earlier this week to their highest levels since 2011, soyoil futures flashed signs of a major top the past two days.
Wheat: May SRW futures were up 3/4 cent to $6.13 1/4, down 13 3/4 cents this week. May HRW futures rose 1 1/2 cents on Friday to $5.68 1/4, paring the weekly drop to 17 1/4 cents. May spring wheat futures were down 13 cents to $6.14 this week. Wheat prices extended this month’s decline to the lowest since December this morning before rebounding. The rally was limited as U.S. winter wheat crop conditions are improving and limiting buying interest in futures. Soil conditions in the United States have improved, although more moisture is needed in the southwestern and west-central high Plains. The Northern Plains and Canada’s prairies need significant moisture soon to prevent planting delays for spring cereals, especially in the U.S. Crops in Europe, the Black Sea Region, China, India and portions of the Middle East and North Africa are rated favorably. Australia’s planting prospects are good for eastern parts of the nation and should increase later in the year in western areas. This week, the International Grains Council forecast global production will rise to 790 MMT, up from 774 MMT last year.
Cotton: May cotton was up 194 points to 80.38 cents, paring its weekly drop to 430 points. December cotton rose 219 points to 78.74 cents, but still down 377 points this week. The cotton market rebounded sharply today after closing limit down on Thursday and likely set interim lows. May futures extended yesterday’s plunge to the lowest since Dec. 29 before rebounding. The rally in the dollar and Chinese anger over banned Xinjiang cotton caused bullish speculators to exit long positions. There is talk that mills took advantage of the weakness to fix on-call sales and buy cotton for delivery for several months, not just spot. Prices also rose on optimism over the vaccine rollout after President Joe Biden doubled the goal for vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. On March 31, USDA will issue its planting intentions report. Traders are looking for cotton plantings to match last year’s 12.1 million acres. Texas acres are expected to rise with the higher crop insurance prices this year.
Hogs: Lean hog futures gapped to new contract highs and pulled back but still ended $1.125 to $2.525 higher through the August contract. The October and December contracts finished 80 and 57 1/2 cents higher, respectively, today. For the week, April hogs surged $6.55 to $100.80 and June hogs rallied $5 to $105.60. Hog futures continue to be supported by surging cash hog and wholesale pork prices. USDA’s Hogs & Pigs Report on Thursday showed the hog herd was 1.8% smaller than year-ago and likely to decline further, which added a new bullish twist to the market. But futures hold big premiums to the cash index, with the April through August contracts now above $100, the highest levels since 2014, and futures are heavily overbought. As a result, we must be on the lookout for signs of a top, which may come via softer cash fundamentals and/or a technical signal. But for now, bulls are fully in control.
Cattle: April live cattle futures closed the day up $0.55 at $120.10 and June cattle gained $0.70 to close at $121.775. For the week June live cattle rose $3.10. May feeder cattle futures today rose $0.75 at $149.875 and on the week rose $5.20. The technically bullish weekly high closes today in the cattle futures markets set the table for follow-through buying strength early next week and challenge the contract highs. Cash cattle trade picked up Thursday between $115 and $116 after some earlier action at similar price levels. The Iowa and Nebraska markets reported a few sales as high as $117. Boxed beef values at noon Friday climbed another $1.95 for Choice and to $2.84 for Select grade, on movement of 60 loads. Many cattle futures traders are looking for cash cattle prices to reach the low $120s in April.