Mixed to lower action to start the last trading day of the week.
Grain futures struggled this past week with the void of extremely bullish export or weather news, leaving it in liquidation from speculators and renewed hedging for farmers heading into the end of the month Stocks/seeding's report. The USDA is known for erotic data, with volatile moves that are commonplace with this one report of the year, more so than the June 30 report. Traders are wondering how the USDA will rectify its carryout numbers, with corn exports already at 98% and soybeans at 99% of projected exports already sold with five months left in the crop year.
The first quarter for US corn feed usage was record large, and it's unknown whether that feed use trend will be carried forward into the December-February quarter. Yesterday's Hogs and Pigs report was more bullish than expected, with hog numbers 1-2% lower than estimates, implying some wiggle room for slight reductions. But with the upcoming summer US soybean crush, it will only be slowed by the pure lack of supply amid record significant biodiesel demand for soyoil that keeps margins strong. Its anticipated Northern Plains farmers will see acres moving more towards row crops with the greater potential profit offered on some spring wheat acres.
A high-pressure ridge will continue to block rain from the winter corn areas of Brazil for the next 10 days. Soil moisture is in sharp decline, and warming temps will speed the arrival of crop stress in March planted corn. The 11-15 day forecast offers a few lite showers, but our confidence this far out stays low. With 25% of the Brazilian corn crop planted past optimum dates, there is concern that the typical Eric/warm weather that occurs in May, the dry season, will dramatically affect production. The USDA's forecast of 109 MMT Brazilian corn crop could be significantly overstated, and weather will be closely watched in several weeks for that area. A potent storm system is producing rain and strong wind across NE Argentina this morning while lite showers fall across S Santa Fe and Buenos Aires. The rain is helping to stabilize yield potential. It is too late in the growing season to add back bushels.
Cattle futures enjoyed a strong day yesterday, while feeder futures marked the 2nd consecutive day of solid gains. Following active cash trade on Wednesday, activity slowed on Thursday. Price trends were steady/higher, with light trade quoted at $115-116 on the week. Cattle slaughter this week has so far been 22,000 head ahead of last week, but 17,000 head under a year ago. But despite the better slaughter this week, beef prices continue to climb. Boxes of choice beef gained $1.61, and select moved $2.18 higher. The choice-value has gained nearly $8 in the last week. Due to the cold weather that overcame the feeding states, steer carcass weights bottomed in late February and have gained 5 lbs in 2 weeks. At 904 Lbs, weights are just above a year ago but are expected to fall well under last year by early summer. On average, weights fall 30-35 Lbs from March to the summer low, which implies a summer bottom near 870 Lbs.