Corn traders seem to be balancing positions before the weekend. Despite firm equity markets and a more stable currency situation, as well as more evidence of Russian government moves to curtail its wheat exports, the crop markets turned decidedly lower Thursday night. Corn futures followed wheat downward, but firmed later in the day when a private forecaster predicted reduced 2015 plantings. March corn futures closed 0.5 cent lower at $4.105/bushel Friday, while July skidded 0.25 to $4.26.
Beans and meal also set back Friday. Renewed talk of demand strength supported the soy complex at midweek, particularly with the stock indexes staging a powerful recovery from big losses. Soyoil still seemed hostage to developments in the crude and palm markets, followed crude higher on the day. But beans and meal declined in concert with wheat. Again, position-squaring and farmer selling apparently weighed on those markets Friday. January soybean futures ended the week having slumped 4.5 cents to $10.305/bushel, while January soyoil gained 0.08 to 31.97 cents/pound, and January meal slid $1.8 to $363.5/ton.
The Russian-powered wheat surge lost its upward momentum. Russia’s Association of Grain Exporters announced overnight that it had stopped buying Russian grain for export due to government pressure, which essentially confirmed the widespread belief that officials in that country were creating de facto export restrictions. However, wheat futures turned decidedly lower. Such negative reactions to bullish news are often viewed as signaling that the preceding rally has ended. Of course, that might not be true in this case. March CBOT wheat tumbled 23.00 cents to $6.3225/bushel in late Friday action, while March KC wheat fell 17.75 cents to $6.66/bushel and March MWE wheat sank 12.75 to $6.4825.
Cattle futures sustained Thursday’s dramatic reversal. The recent breakdown in fed and feeder cattle prices seemed to run its course Thursday, with cattle and yearling prices rebounding drastically from early lows. Those gains continued Friday, thereby likely reflecting ideas that the breakdown was overdone and that the market was oversold. February live cattle jumped 1.57 cents to 160.10 cents/pound as CME trading ended Friday, while April futures surged 1.47 cents to 159.67. January feeder cattle futures leapt 3.07 cents to 220.15 cents/pound and March feeders spiked 4.20 cents to 217.95.
Seasonal weakness seemed to weigh on hogs. Hog futures rebounded in concert with cattle and feeders Thursday, but have proved a good bit weaker Friday. One has to suspect that traders worried about sustained seasonal weakness through the holiday season, especially if the ham market suffers its usual breakdown after grocers complete their holiday buying. February hog futures settled up 0.02 cents at 81.90 cents/pound Friday, while June hogs stumbled 0.45 cents to 90.42.
Cotton futures struggled against moving average resistance. The huge stock gains posted Wednesday and Thursday indicated investors had become more optimistic about the global economic outlook and apparel demand. Cotton futures responded rather well to the stock advance, but the nearby contracts couldn’t decisively top their respective 40-day moving averages before the weekend. That fact, along with concurrent grain and soy losses probably explain today’s limited price moves. March cotton futures rose 0.07 cents to 60.896 cents/pound at Friday’s settlement, while the July contract inched up 0.04 to 62.14.