Corn futures ended lower Wednesday. Old-crop futures were down sharply on weakness in the outside markets, lower soybean prices and a record fast planting pace. All this triggered further long liquidation by the funds. Since their long positions have been concentrated in the nearby contracts, the liquidation hit May and July contracts the hardest. Corn planting progress as of Sunday was a record high 17%. This compares to the five-year average at 5%, but was near trade expectations. May corn settled 15 cents lower at $6.01 ¾. The December contract was 1 cent lower at $5.28 ¾.
Soybean futures settled lower on Wednesday. Commodity traders were back trying to reduce risks and one way was to pare back on the long-side exposure. Trading funds had recently established record bullish positions in soybeans and with prices starting to weaken, they are reducing their exposure with large sales. Rapid corn planting is a negative fundamental as it implies more opportunities to plant soybeans on schedule next month, rather than battle with weather as occurred last year. May futures closed 18 cents lower at $14.07 3/4 while November lost 17 3/4 cents at $13.37 3/4.
Wheat futures closed lower Wednesday. Outside markets were a factor, as crude oil, gold and the DJIA were all lower and the U.S. dollar higher. That proved negative for the whole grain complex today. But for wheat, it was mostly yesterday’s crop condition reports and planting progress reports cited by traders. Spring wheat is already 37% planted vs. 5% last year and 9% normally. As for winter wheat, 64% is now rated “good to excellent”, up 3 pts. from last week and far better than the 36% rated good to excellent a year ago. In its first weekly report of percent of winter wheat heading out, USDA showed that at 29% compared to just 11% last year and 8% on average. CBOT May closed 4 ¾ cents lower at $6.10 ¾; KCBT May closed 6 cents lower at $6.26; MGE May closed 8 ½ cents lower at $8.00.
Cattle futures closed lower Wednesday. Lower cash trade, weakness in the outside markets and another steep decline in the hog market also weighed heavily on cattle futures. Futures made a new low for the week and are closing in on last week’s low. USDA will release the monthly Cattle on Feed report on Friday afternoon. The report is expected to show a sharp decline in placements during March. Even so, lower marketings are expected leave cattle on feed as of April 1 up 2% from a year ago. June cattle futures settled $1.75 lower at $114.82. August was $1.50 lower at $118.15.
Lean hog futures closed sharply lower on Wednesday. With the pork cutout value dropping again on Tuesday and pressure from outside markets, hog futures plunged by around $2 on Wednesday. The June contract dropped to $87.35 a new life-of-contract low. The pork cutout value stands at $76.75, the lowest level since December of 2010. There are no signs that we will see the normal seasonal increase in hog prices that usually occurs in April and May. The May contract closed at $87.25, down $2.55 from Tuesday’s close.