Talk of South American weather and US dollar strength hurt the crop markets again Tuesday night. Forecasts for favorable weather over major South American grain and soy growing areas are reportedly depressing corn and soybean futures at this point. But the U.S. dollar also rose to its highest level since April 2006 overnight, thereby rendering U.S. ag products less competitive on international markets. March corn futures dipped 2.5 cents to $3.7875/bushel early Wednesday morning, while July slid 3.0 to $3.9375.
Beans and meal also posted overnight declines. As in the corn market, benign South American forecasts are improving production prospects in Brazil and Argentina, which is rather obviously undercutting the U.S. market. The concurrent U.S. dollar advance is likely hurting as well. Last night’s firmness in crude and palm oil markets spilled over into the soyoil pit. January soybean futures slumped 5.5 cents to $9.9025/bushel in predawn Wednesday action, while January soyoil edged 0.07 higher to 31.35 cents/pound, and January meal fell $6.3 to $351.6/ton.
The wheat markets sagged as well. Persistent talk of restrictions on Russian wheat exports and production problems around the Black Sea and in Australia is probably providing support for U.S. values. However, the rally apparently lost its upward momentum Tuesday and turned significantly lower overnight. That likely reflected the U.S. dollar rally to eight-year highs. March CBOT wheat dove 9.0 cents to $5.9425/bushel Tuesday night, while March KC wheat tumbled 8.75 cents to $6.435/bushel and March MWE wheat dropped 6.5 cents to $6.26.
A Cargill beef recall may have sparked Tuesday’s cattle losses. After rallying strongly Monday, cattle futures reversed to the downside yesterday. That selling may have been triggered by news that Cargill has recalled a sizeable amount of ground beef sold in Canadian WalMart stores, but big beef losses probably powered the decline. We tend to expect a weak opening today. February live cattle plunged 1.80 cents to 169.05 cents/pound as Tuesday’s CME pit session ended, and April tumbled 1.15 at 168.75. In contrast, January feeder cattle futures leapt 1.47 cents to 235.55 cents/pound and March feeders climbed 0.27 to 233.47.
Hog futures closed mostly lower Tuesday. Demand concerns still seem to be weighing on the hog and pork complex, although traders also appear to be thinking early-2015 hog and pork supplies will fall short of the bearish totals implied by the September Hogs & Pigs report. That might explain yesterday’s comparative February firmness. Late reports of big pork losses seemingly bode ill for today’s opening. February hog futures ended Tuesday having risen 0.07 cents to 89.00 cents/pound, while June hogs dove 0.90 cents to 96.60.