The corn market was neutral on Thursday morning, New Year’s Eve, a holiday for many. Ethanol production numbers came in a little positive with weekly production in the most recent week up 2% from the previous week and up 2.1% from a year ago. Estimates for weekly corn export sales are .600 to .800 million tonnes. Tuesday, Argentina did away with limits on how much corn and wheat the country can export in their latest effort to spur their ag sector which accounts for 35% of their GDP, vs the U.S. at less than 5%. The news comes as corn futures already contend with less-than-impressive exports due to rising global competition, particularly from S. America. Traders look to the Jan 12 WASDE and Crop Production reports for supply clarity and market direction. March corn futures were neutral at $3.59 early Thursday morning, while May was neutral at $3.6525.
Soybean futures were quiet the morning of New Year’s Eve. Today provides a final opportunity for position adjustments ahead of 2016. Estimates for weekly soybean export sales are 1.0 to 1.4 million tonnes. Crop progress in Argentina as of Dec 29 has soybean planting at 87% complete, compared to 89% last year. The Coast Guard closed 76 miles of the Mississippi from Chester, IL south. Soybean basis bids have remained flat despite flood-disrupted river logistics with farmers still in holiday mode. Forecast rains in Brazil have tempered worries for now, but poor soil moisture persists and will be followed closely. Soybean futures moved 1 cent lower to $8.745 early Thursday, while Jan soyoil lost 7 points to 30.77 cents per pound and January meal was gained $.60 to $266.40.
US wheat futures rallied 2% Tuesday and touched a one week high on bargain buying and crop production concerns in the southern Midwest. Lack of support above Tuesday’s gains trigged technical selling and with lack of bullish fundamentals the wheat complex gave back all of Tuesday’s gains. Short covering was more of the driver on Tuesday’s rally versus true bull data, thus the lack of support to push prices higher. Poor weather in Punjab and Haryana regions of India has created concerns for crop damage and fungus. India’s wheat acreage is already down 7% from poor soil conditions at time of sowing. The yellow fungus destroyed 2 million acres of India’s crop in 2006/07. Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported the Agriculture Ministry is targeting to increase production of strategic crops to reduce the country’s reliance on imports. Egypt expects to produce 80% of wheat needs by 2018. Tuesday, Argentina removed the final volume export limits on corn and wheat. The government has estimated that Argentina’s grains production will grow to 130 million tonnes a year during Macri’s first term from the current 100 million tonnes. March CBOT wheat futures declined 6 cents to $4.69 ¾ per bushel Wednesday, while Mar KC wheat was 7 ¾ cents lower at $4.65 ½, and March MWE dropped 5 ¼ cents to $4.9875.
Cattle futures moved higher on Wednesday, as a rally in wholesale beef market has renewed hopes about a rebound in demand. Demand in the cash cattle markets and severe snowstorms the past week, strengthened futures offed multi-year lows. A surge in beef purchases has revived expectations for cattle prices to get a boost from retail demand in the month end. Beef Cut Outs are up. Choice cuts are 1.91 higher to 208.08 and Select cuts are 3.14 higher to 200.80. Cattle slaughter for this week is at 309,000 head vs 340,000 head last week and 321,000 last year. February live cattle gained 2.825 cents to 133.025 cents/pound Wednesday, while April futures gained 1.125 cents to 136.625. March feeder cattle increased 4.050 cents to 166.525 cents/pound Wednesday, and April feeders gained 3.825 cents to 162.150.
Lean hog futures continued higher on Wednesday. Light buyer support through the rest of the year should keep prices steady limiting downside potential. Country hogs are 0.53 higher to $47.76. Cash hogs in the US Midwest are unchanged even as packers are buying supplies for the rest of the week, including Saturday’s post New Year’s holiday kill. The average pork packer margin for Wednesday was $39.90 per head, down from $41.80 on Tuesday and $41.20 a week ago. Slaughter this week is estimated at 1,290,000 head vs 1,304,000 last week and 1,236,000 a year ago. February futures closed 0.475 cents/pound higher at 59.625 cents/pound Wednesday, while April hogs lost 0.025 to 65.850. Slaughter this week is estimated at 1,290,000 head vs 1,304,000 last week and 1,236,000 a year ago. February futures closed 0.475 cents/pound higher at 59.625 cents/pound Wednesday, while April hogs lost 0.025 to 65.850.
Cotton futures were lower Thursday ahead of the New Year holiday. Following years of drought, cotton farmers welcomed the West Texas snowstorm which was the strongest in 30 years. The storm brought much-needed moisture and could boost yields and acreage next year. After the slow-news holiday period, the Jan 12 supply/demand report could provide market-moving data. Globally, cotton stocks remain extraordinarily high at 104 million bales (480 lb.), or nearly 50 billion pounds of cotton. That’s enough to make 127 billion t-shirts, or 17 for every person on earth, according to estimates from the National Cotton Council. This is driven by China’s stockpiling program, which has their stocks accounting for nearly 60% of world supply. March cotton moved .15 higher to 64.02 cents/pound early Wednesday, while May cotton gained 0.11 to 64.73 cents/pound.