Dollar strength may have weighed on the crop markets. The weekly USDA Export Sales report looked supportive of corn, especially after another daily export sales announcement was made earlier. However, Switzerland had earlier announced that it was removing its cap on the value of the franc, which depressed the euro and spurred fresh gains in the value of the dollar. That wasn’t good news for crop export prospects. March corn futures closed 1.0 cent lower at $3.80/bushel in late Thursday trading, while July slipped 1.5 to $3.935.
Beans and meal led the crop markets lower Thursday. The soybean result on the weekly USDA export report once again topped forecasts. Moreover, a private firm cut its projection for 2015 U.S. bean acreage. Nevertheless, beans and meal were under pressure in early trading, then declined further in response to the NOPA Crush report. One has to suspect fund selling, technical factors, U.S. dollar strength and forecasts for improved South American weather weighed on those markets. Oil proved surprisingly firm. March soybean futures dove 18.25 cents to $9.91/bushel as the Chicago session ended Thursday, while March soyoil rose 0.17 cents to 32.99 cents/pound, and March meal tumbled $8.8 to $326.7/ton.
The latest Egyptian shutout probably undercut the wheat markets. The Export Sales report was neutral-bearish for wheat futures, but was likely forgotten after traders heard that French sources had dominated the latest Egyptian tender and U.S. sellers were again shut out. Today’s dollar strength may have added to the pressure. March CBOT wheat fell 5.0 cents to $5.3275/bushel at Thursday’s close, while March KC wheat slid 2.0 cents to $5.73/bushel, but March MWE wheat edged up 0.5 to $5.81.
Falling cash prices dragged cattle futures downward. As suggested previously, CME cattle traders were apparently anticipating a big drop in country prices before the weekend. Thus, news that Panhandle steer prices had fallen $4-$6/cwt below last week’s level barely budged nearby futures at that time. However, bears got the upper hand as the closing bell was warmed up. February live cattle futures ended Thursday having plunged 1.55 cents to 154.20 cents/pound, while the April contract dropped 1.52 cents to 152.80. January and March feeder cattle futures plummeted the expanded 4.50-cent daily limit to 215.65 and 205.60 cents/pound, respectively.
CME hogs held up surprisingly well Thursday. Renewed optimism about the winter price outlook seemed to spur Wednesday’s big rebound in hog futures. However, after acting better lately, pork cutout suffered some rather sizeable losses this morning. Cash quotes were scarce, so ideas about country firmness may have provided support. February hog futures sank 0.40 cents to 75.62 cents/pound at their Thursday settlement, while June hogs dipped 0.32 cents to 87.92.