Financial market losses depress ag futures Monday morning

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After finishing last week strongly, corn futures turned downward early Monday morning. Tight old crop conditions and weather conditions nonconducive to new crop plantings have supported the yellow grain market. However, news that first quarter Chinese GDP growth was revised downward apparently depressed global financial markets Sunday night. The agricultural markets were not immune to the weakness. May corn fell 10.75 cents to $6.4775/bushel in early Monday morning trading, while December dropped 14.25 cents to $5.3575.

Soybean futures also lost ground Sunday night. As with numerous financial and commodity markets, talk that the surprisingly weak Chinese GDP data implied diminished demand from that country and around the world seemed to undercut prices. Soybeans may be particularly vulnerable to a setback, since nearby futures rallied over 50 cents/bushel last week. May soybeans dipped 6.0 cents to $14.07/bushel in early Monday electronic trading, while May soyoil dove 0.37 cents to 48.86 cents/pound, and May meal lost $3.4 to $396.8/ton.

Despite signs that persistent wet, cold weather is hurting U.S. wheat production prospects this year, wheat futures tumbled in early Monday morning action. As in the corn and soybean pits, concerns about the global economic outlook and its impact upon demand apparently depressed golden grain values. One has to suspect the various wheat markets could rebound quickly, especially if recent reports of frost damage to winter wheat fields in the Southern Plains are confirmed. May CBOT wheat futures plunged 17.5 cents to $6.9725/bushel in overnight trading, while May KCBT wheat fell 13.75 cents to $7.3925, and May MGE futures declined 8.0 cents to $7.9975.

Cattle futures finished last week trading mixed to lower, with disappointing cash and wholesale action undermining the various markets. In more normal circumstances, Chicago prices might be expected to move moderately higher as the packing and grocery industries gear up for early-May beef sales. However, it seems doubtful they can escape the general bearish tide caused by weak Chinese GDP numbers published Sunday evening. June cattle rose 0.10 cents to 120.75 cents/pound at its Friday afternoon close, while December slipped 0.10 cents to 126.72. May feeder cattle futures dropped 0.85 cents to 140.92 cents/pound, and August sank 1.02 cents to 147.80.

Nearby hog futures were mixed Friday afternoon, with traders apparently holding differing opinions about the upside potential enjoyed by the hog and pork complex this spring. Bears have seen little they have found particularly encouraging lately, but bulls are very likely banking upon warmer weather to boost consumer demand just when hog and pork production move toward their lowest levels of the year. However, the generally bearish financial market tone experienced Sunday night seemingly bodes ill for the Monday morning hog opening. The lightly traded May hog contract settled just 0.02 cents lower at 87.37 cents/pound Friday, while the June contract rallied 0.45 cents to 89.90.

Bullish traders apparently refused to let the cotton market suffer a critical breakdown last Friday and pushed prices moderately higher to finish the week. However, the broad financial market drop suffered Sunday night and Monday morning may make it impossible to avoid continued cotton weakness, because apparel demand is closely tied to the economic environment. May cotton dipped 0.68 cents to 84.90 cents/pound in early Monday morning trading, while December skidded 0.37 cents to 85.97.



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