Corn futures trade higher at midday

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Corn futures are higher at midday. USDA reported the sale of 4.7 million bushels to an unknown destination for delivery in the 2012/13 crop year. This is widely suspected to be a sale to China although it’s well short of the sales level rumored last week which ranged as high as 50 to 75 million bushels. Planting progress as of Sunday is expected to be close to 30% in USDA’s update this afternoon. May corn is 4 ½ cents higher at $6.17 and December is 3 cents higher at $5.39 ¾.

Soybean futures are trading lower at midsession. The soybean market is experiencing a round of profit taking following large gains late in the session on Friday. That surge was tied to rumors that Brazil might slow soybean exports in response to the potential for very tight supplies later this year. Brazil’s agricultural ministry denied the rumors. Soybeans are still seeing some buying interest today on news that there were export sales of 165,000 tonnes of old-crop beans on Friday. The May contract is down 1 3/4 cent at $14.45 and November is down 5 1/2 cents at $13.50 1/2.

Wheat futures are trading mostly higher at midday. There is some talk of another frost threat to soft red winter wheat in parts of eastern Corn Belt, but our weather consultant discounts the threat to negligible. A bigger factor in strength this morning has been reports that China has been buying U.S. wheat aggressively as a feedstuff. Such purchases already total more than half a million metric tons, more than six times last year’s pace. At midsession, CBOT May is up 6 ¼ cents at $6.22; KCBT May is up 4 ¾ cents at $6.30 ¾; and MGE May is down 1 cent at $7.90.

Cattle futures are trading lower at midday. Cattle on Feed as of April 1 came in near expectations at 2% higher than a year ago. However, the Cold Storage report showed beef stocks up 14% from a year ago. On balance the USDA reports on Friday afternoon were negative for prices. In addition, sharply lower equity markets and dollar strength are adding to the selling pressure in the cattle market. June cattle futures are 65 cents lower $114.80 and August is 85 cents lower at $118.00.

Lean hog futures are trading mostly higher at midday. The underlying market fundamentals remain bearish, but traders are tentatively getting back into the market after last week’s big declines. The pork cutout value was up a little on Friday, also helping support hog futures contracts. But the stock market is down and the value of the dollar is up on Monday morning. Cash hog prices are reported to be steady to a little lower. The May contract is down 15 cents at $87.35, while June is 35 cents higher at $87.75.



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