The crop markets were narrowly mixed Sunday night. Weekend news pertinent to the ag markets was rather mixed, which seemed to leave traders hunting for reasons to push prices in either direction. Ultimately, disappointment with China’s latest monthly trade data seemed to discourage bulls in the corn market, since it suggested Chinese demand will remain soft in the weeks and months ahead. March corn slipped 1.0 cent to $3.8475/bushel in early Monday trading, while July lost 1.0 to $4.005.
The soy complex is trading indecisively as well. Talk of weak Chinese demand also seems to be weighing on the soy complex, but that slippage is being at least partially offset by forecasts for dryness in some Brazilian areas over the next two weeks. Meal and oil also dipped, with negative action in the Asian palm markets apparently offsetting crude oil strength in the latter. March soybean futures skidded 0.5 cent to $9.73/bushel early Monday morning, and March soyoil slid 0.12 cents to 31.70 cents/pound, whereas March meal declined $0.5 to $328.9/ton.
The wheat markets has moved mostly lower. Last week’s reports that Egypt would use a big U.S. credit line to hold a U.S.-only wheat tender supported the golden grain markets, but they have lost ground to start this week. Talk of optimistic forecasts for Russian production and pessimism about Chinese usage seemed to set a negative tone to start the week. March CBOT wheat dropped 3.75 cents to $5.2325/bushel Sunday night, while March KC wheat sank 3.0 to $5.5875/bushel, and March MWE wheat sagged 2.0 to $5.75.
Cash strength supported cattle futures Friday. Wholesale news seemed rather bearish for the short-term cattle outlook last week, especially in the face of recent talk that packers aren’t able to export fresh, chilled product due to gridlock at the West Coast ports. However, cash prices proved generally stable at midweek and reportedly rose modestly Friday, which clearly favored bulls. Still, one has to wonder if afternoon beef losses will weigh upon today’s opening. April live cattle futures leapt the 3.00-cent daily limit to 151.02 cents/pound in late Friday action, while August cattle jumped 2.12 cents to 143.12 cents/pound. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures spiked 3.80 cents to 199.45 cents/pound and May feeders soared 3.20 to 199.67.
Hog traders seemed to think recent losses were overdone. The cash and wholesale markets remained quite weak Friday amid talk of stunted exports due to the West Coast port situation. However, simply having the severity of the ongoing drop explained, with the prospect of a reversal when new port worker contracts are signed, may have encouraged many in the industry. Friday’s late spot reports indicated continued losses, which seems to bode ill for Monday’s CME opening. April and June hog futures vaulted the 3.00-cent daily limit to 69.27 and 81.05 cents/pound, respectively, as the Chicago session ended Friday.
Cotton futures are bumping up against chart resistance. The National Cotton Council released the results of its early-season survey of producers over the weekend. The U.S. acreage total, at 9.4 million, looks rather small by recent standers, thereby seeming to support deferred futures Sunday night. Conversely, old-crop March futures sagged, which likely marked a response to talk of poor Chinese demand. March cotton futures dipped 0.13 cents to 61.46 cents/pound as Monday dawned over New York, while the July contract gained 0.13 to 62.25.