Corn futures were settled sharply higher Friday. The USDA reported March 1 corn stocks at 6.01 billion bushels, down from the trade estimate of 6.15 billion and more than 500 million bushels lower than a year ago. The stocks figure was bullish for prices. Acreage on the other hand, at 95.9 million acres, came in above the high end of trade estimates and well above the average estimate of 94.7 million, up 4% from a year ago. Planting intentions are higher than expected, but the steep gains in old-crop prices pulled new-crop prices higher as well. May closed up the 40 cent limit at $6.44 and December settled 16 cents higher at $5.40 1/4.
Soybean futures settled higher on Friday. Soybean prices shot to new recovery highs on news that farmers told USDA that they intend to reduce soybean planted acreage in 2012 by nearly 1.1 million acres. Plantings of 73.9 million acres will limit soybean production to about 3.2 billion bushels under normal weather. But because of the soybean losses in South America, demand for U.S. beans is poised to boom. Prices rallied sharply as the market tried to entice farmers to consider planting more acres of soybeans. May futures closed 47 1/2 cents higher at $14.03 and November was up 53 1/4 cents at $13.58.
Wheat futures closed strongly higher Friday. The USDA reports were bullish for wheat as acreage was forecast at 55.9 million acres, the low end of trade expectations. The average trade estimate was looking for 57.42 million. Spring wheat has the biggest impact at 12.0 million acres versus the trade estimate of 13.3 million and below year-ago’s 12.39 million. Stocks were pegged at 1.201 billion bushels compared to trade estimate of 1.223 billion. CBOT May was 48 1/4 cents higher at $6.60 3/4; KCBT May was 43 1/2 cents higher at $6.97 1/2; MGE May was 48 3/4 cents higher at $8.37 1/2.
Cattle futures were sharply lower. Cattle futures are slightly higher early in the session in conjunction with higher grain prices. Bullish USDA grain reports sparked steep gains in the grain markets. However, the early gains in the cattle market faded and futures turned sharply again to multi-month lows amid concern over the fate of beef demand. Beef prices remain under pressure despite packer’s efforts to curb production by pulling back on slaughter rates. April cattle futures closed $2.05 lower at $120.45 and June was $2.32 lower at $116.15.
Lean hog futures closed mostly higher on Friday. Hog prices rebounded, at least a little bit, after the big declines on Wednesday and Thursday. Higher grain prices were also supportive for hogs. The quarterly Hogs and Pigs report showed 0.5% more breeding hogs and 2% more market hogs as of the beginning of March. The report was considered a little bearish for hog futures. April closed at $83.43, up 40 cents. June was 33 cents higher at $90.40.