After Sunday night's higher start, the trade turned mixed.

Grain futures opened higher Sunday night on the return of warm, dry weather late this week, and Russia firing warning shots at a merchant vessel over the weekend. Even though Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the “provocative” actions and called for international community countermeasures, wheat, and corn faded throughout the night as Friday’s WASDE reduction in corn yields was offset by lowering corn demand, leaving a bearish leaning of 2.2 billion bushels of ending stocks.

The action in the markets overnight reveals that the grain trade remains unconvinced that the Black Sea wheat/corn exports will be materially impacted into the fall. Also, private Russian wheat crop estimates continue to move higher, but the most recent ideas are now at 86 MMTs compared to the USDA’s 85 MMT. Also, the Russian Ruble has plunged to a new 17-month low, which helps lower the cost of replacement in US dollars.

In the weather, high-pressure Ridging returned to Texas and the far southern areas but does expand rapidly beginning Friday/Saturday. The EU and GFS models agree that Ridging becomes anchored aloft the C Plains and primary Midwest August 18-25. High temps are forecasted to reach 97-104 and TX, OK, KS, and NE on Saturday. Readings in the low to mid-90s expand East into the principal corn/soybean belt thereafter the first half of next week.

Crop ratings this afternoon will likely be steady/higher following better weather last week, but they look to erode into late August/early September if the current two-week forecast verifies. This implies that the September WASDE crop report may still reveal another lower yield number.

Live and feeder cattle futures were lower last week, but a firm outlook is offered for this morning’s start. Negotiated fed cattle last week to develop steady to higher in all regions, with live cattle and are selling for $188-190, which was steady to $2 higher in the dressed trades, were quoted steady to $2 higher at $295-290. The live sales in the South were mostly steady for the week, near $180. Top prices were quoted as much as $186.

Cattle slaughter last week was sharply lower, slipping to just 603,000 head to mark the lowest non-holiday kill of the year. Cumin to slaughter for the quarter is down 8% from a year ago and the lowest since 2016. The drop in production continues to support beef prices at record seasonal levels. Last week the choice cutout value gained $0.82 and select was up $0.75. The cash trade is typically friendly for another three weeks. However, once Labor Day stocking is finished, the market tends to soften into October, and then a typical fourth-quarter rally occurs into the new year.