Grain futures tumble at midday

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Corn futures are trading lower at midday. Old-crop futures are down sharply on long liquidation and weakness in the soybean market. Corn planting progress, at 17%, is well ahead the five-year average at 5%, but came in near trade expectations. The fast planting pace is most negative for new-crop prices, but it seems to have triggered fund selling which is concentrated in the May and July contracts. May corn is 14 1/4 cents lower at $6.02 1/2. The December contract is 3 1/4 cents lower at $5.26 1/2.

Soybean futures are trading lower at midsession. Traders are selling soybean positions based on a mixture of technical and fundamental indicators. Technical chart patterns find soybean futures breaking below their 20-day moving averages, and that is setting off preset sell orders. From the standpoint of fundamentals, USDA issued a favorable crop progress report Tuesday afternoon. Corn planting is at a record pace. That indicates that there should be lots of time to plant the soybean crop in May with positive implications for yields. The May contract is down 18 cents at $14.07 3/4 and November is down 20 cents at $13.35 1/2.

Wheat futures are trading lower at midday. It’s a combination of factors. Outside markets are all negative for commodities in general today. But on top of that, yesterday’s crop condition reports and planting progress reports are pressuring wheat. Spring wheat is already 37% planted vs. 5% last year and 9% normally. As for winter wheat, now 64% is rated “good to excellent”, up from 61% last week and just 36% a year ago. Heading of winter wheat is also well ahead, with 29% already headed out compared to just 11% last year and 8% on average. CBOT May is 7 ½ cents lower at $6.08; KCBT May is 5 ¼ cents lower at $6.26 ¾; MGE May is 9 ¼ cents lower at $7.99 ¼.

Cattle futures are trading lower at midday. The cattle market was expected to move higher on strength in the beef market, but losses in the grains carried over into cattle. Futures have 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. June cattle futures are $1.27 cents lower at $115.30 and August is $1.32 lower at $118.32.

Lean hog futures are sharply lower at midday on Wednesday. Futures prices surged near the close on Tuesday as traders bet that pork prices were bottoming out and set to turn higher. But cutout values dropped by more than $1 on Wednesday, putting additional pressure on hog futures prices. The pork cutout is now at a new low for all of 2011 and the first 3 and one-half months of 2012. Cash hog prices are steady to lower on Wednesday. The May contract is down $1.85, falling to $87.95. June is at $87.90, down $1.88 from Tuesday’s close.



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