USDA data weighed on the grain markets. Tuesday’s belated release of the weekly USDA Crop Progress report likely spurred selling throughout Wednesday’s session. Not only did the report indicate corn plantings still ahead of normal, the initial corn condition rating at 74% good-to-excellent was better than normal. The market may also have suffered from follow-through selling in the wake of yesterday’s dollar-driven drop. Traders also cited dollar strength for today losses. July corn futures closed 5.5 cents lower at $3.495/bushel Wednesday, while December lost 6.5 to $3.6675.  

Argentina’s labor situation again seemed to support the soy complex. Overnight palm oil slippage and a morning downturn in energy prices apparently depressed soyoil as well. Meanwhile, the Crop Progress data indicated good bean planting progress. Nevertheless, bean and meal futures worked higher, which probably reflected growing concern about the Argentine labor situation and that country’s ability to ship product in the near future. July soybean futures ended Wednesday having rallied 4.5 cents to $9.27/bushel, while July soyoil tumbled 0.41 cents to 31.73 cents/pound, and July meal climbed $6.2 to $308.1/ton.  

Wheat markets followed through to the downside. The Crop Progress report looked negative for the Minneapolis market, since spring wheat condition ratings jumped from 65% to 69% good to excellent. Similar winter wheat ratings were unchanged. Forecasts for early-June dryness in the southern Plains may also have weighed on KC prices. Bearish momentum spilling over from Tuesday’s breakdown likely played a role in the drop, as did talk of increasing Russian production. July CBOT wheat futures fell 5.5 cents to $4.8775/bushel at Wednesday’s CBOT close, while July KC wheat dropped 12.5 cents to $5.12/bushel, and July MWE wheat stumbled 7.5 to $5.4575.  

Firming beef prices sparked bullish cattle market interest. Wholesale beef prices proved surprisingly strong Tuesday, thereby giving rise to ideas that discounts already built into summer futures were too large. The Chicago market continued rallying today despite mixed midday beef quotes. June live cattle futures advanced 0.67 to 152.47 cents/pound in late Wednesday trading, while August cattle surged 0.80 to 151.22. Meanwhile, August feeder cattle futures soared 1.82 cents to 221.42 cents/pound, and November feeders leapt 1.20 to 217.92.   

Spot market firmness also boosted CME hogs. Hog and pork traders are apparently anticipating seasonal price weakness through early June, but Tuesday’s late reports indicated considerable strength at both the cash and wholesale levels. Hog futures bounced in response, with weakness indicated on the midday reports appearing to do little to discourage bulls. June hog futures vaulted 0.60 cents to 83.77 cents/pound at their Wednesday settlement, while December sank 0.27 to 69.80.     

Slow Texas plantings apparently supported deferred cotton futures. ICE traders have apparently come to view recent rainfall in west Texas growing areas as excessive, so deferred futures have begun reacting positively to reports of rains and/or planting delays. Conversely, late forecasts for dryness in early June may have undercut the ICE market once again. Sustained dollar strength seemingly weighed on the old-crop July contract. July cotton sagged 0.26 cents to 63.05 cents/pound as New York trading ended Wednesday, while December futures slipped 0.05 to 64.03.