Corn prices are expected to open 1 to 5 cents higher on Thursday. Most commodity markets are called higher on Thursday. The corn market is expected to draw some support from other crops, especially soybeans, and from outside markets. Dow Jones futures were higher overnight and the dollar was weaker. There was some minor freeze damage to early planted corn, but that will probably not have much impact at this point of the season. Export shipments are expected to be at or above the 34 million bushels needed for corn to stay on pace to reach USDA’s export forecast for 2011/12.
Soybean prices are expected to open 4 cents to 8 cents higher on Thursday. The market outlook remains bullish for both old crop and new crop soybeans. The Export Sales report is expected to show another good week for soybean shipments and the total for the year may exceed the current USDA forecast of 1.29 billion bushels. The weaker dollar and higher stock market will also give soybean futures a boost. Technically the market may be overbought, but few traders want to bail out with the current bullish outlook.
Wheat prices are expected to open 1 to 4 cents higher. The higher opening for the wheat market is due to the spillover effects from gains in other crops, especially soybeans, and the weaker dollar. The underlying market fundamentals remain generally bearish with high world stocks and the potential for big crops in 2012. With only a few weeks left in the crop year, wheat exports need to pick up the pace to reach the 1 billion bushel forecast total.
Cattle prices are forecast to open $1 to $1.50 higher on Thursday. The jump in futures prices is in response to good sales activity in the cash market. A few cattle sold on Tuesday at prices $1 to $2 below last week’s level. But sales on Wednesday were fully steady compared to the previous week in the South and $1 to $2 higher in the North. Buyers had to raise bids to get the cattle needed for this week’s slaughter operations despite struggling beef cutout values and very poor processing margins. Futures prices remain far below cash prices and that will help support futures prices at the open.
Hog futures are expected to open20 cents to 50 cents higher on Thursday. The pork cutout value increased by $1.64 on Wednesday, providing a sign of hope for hog traders. The increase was not enough to make processing hogs profitable again and it is not the first time that we have seen what turned out to be fairly big one day jumps in the cutout. Still traders are looking for any sign that hog prices are ready to turn higher and the increase in the cutout on Wednesday will be enough to give hog prices a boost at the open on Thursday.
Cotton prices are expected to open 40 to 80 points higher on Thursday. Cotton supplies appear tight as the May delivery period approaches and that tightness is helping to support cotton futures prices. The May contract has gained nearly 3 cents per pound this week. The rising stock market and weaker dollar will help to support cotton futures at the open on Thursday.