Chinese may have weighed on grain prices Monday night. The weekly USDA Crop Progress report indicated corn conditions had remained unchanged at 74% good to excellent, which is quite high by historical standards. That was hardly surprising, so traders may have paid more attention to reports out of China, which stated their domestic corn stocks at record highs, and highlighted debates on that country’s domestic prices. Futures seemed to dip slightly in response. July corn slid 1.25 cents to $3.64/bushel shortly after sunrise Tuesday and December skidded 1.5 cents to $3.82.
Slow plantings likely boosted the soy complex. The Crop Progress report stated U.S. soybean plantings at just 79% complete as of Sunday, whereas industry analysts were looking for a figure around 82%. This result isn’t drastically behind rates from the past, but the delays are probably diminishing productive potential at harvest. Meanwhile, talk of vigorous meal demand and slow farmer selling is boosting that market, while rebounding crude oil prices are encouraging soyoil bulls. July soybean futures rallied 3.75 cents to $9.48/bushel in early Tuesday trading, while July soyoil rose 0.10 cents to 34.21 cents/pound, and July meal moved up $2.4 to $311.9/ton.
Wheat futures declined in concert with corn despite lower condition ratings for both winter and spring wheat on Monday’s USDA Crop Progress report. Competing forecasts for Russian and Chinese wheat supply/export prospects seemed to cancel out, so traders were probably unwilling to test recent highs overnight. July CBOT wheat futures slipped 1.0 cent to $5.27/bushel Monday night, while July KC wheat sagged 0.25 cent to $5.4425/bushel, and July MWE edged 0.25 lower to $5.8025.
Live cattle futures exhibited surprising Monday strength. Cattle futures tumbled on bearish cash expectations last Friday, with Nebraska animals changing hands $4 lower at $155/cwt (cents/pound). However, ideas that the cash drop was somewhat overdone, as well as the fact that nearby futures were still trading at discounts probably encouraged bulls. Optimism about late-June demand, especially as the dollar dropped once again, seemed to spur buying as well. Afternoon beef losses suggest a weak opening today. August cattle futures jumped 1.02 cents to 151.60 cents/pound late in Monday’s CME session, while December futures leapt 1.32 cents to 155.07. Meanwhile, August feeder cattle futures surged 0.95 cents to 222.85 cents/pound, and November feeders rose 0.65 to 218.40.
Hog futures ended Monday on a mixed note. Pork prices have remained relatively depressed lately as the industry struggles to get past last year’s PED outbreak, price spike and subsequent supply resurgence. Retail prices are still quite high, thereby seeming to strangle demand throughout the production/marketing chain. However, prices traditionally surge during early summer, so discounted summer futures look underpriced to many. On the other hand, spot market quotes moved unanimously lower Monday afternoon, which implies a lower CME opening. August hog futures slid 0.17 cents to 80.65 cents/pound as CME pit trading halted, while December edged up 0.07 to 67.27.
Surging cotton plantings seemed to weigh on ICE futures. The weekly USDA report indicated a 20% surge in U.S. cotton plantings last week, with the Texas rate jumping 29% to 75% complete. Those results likely exceeded industry expectations and rendered traders way of challenging major technical resistance at the 65.00-cent level (basis July futures). July cotton futures dipped 0.08 cents to 64.72 cents/pound early Tuesday morning, while December sank 0.06 to 65.28.