Grain markets were generally weak Friday morning

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Corn futures set back from Thursday highs early Friday morning. Weakness spilling over from the soybean pit was probably the main driver of the slide, but bears could also point to news that Argentina boosted its 2012/13 corn export quota by 2.0 million to 17 million tonnes. Traders are also keenly aware of the looming release of the USDA Prospective Plantings report next Thursday. May corn slipped 3.25 cents to $7.2975/bushel in early Friday trading, while December dipped 1.5 cents to $5.67.

After surging the past three days, soybean futures declined early this morning. There was no particular news behind the drop, although traders were apparently concerns about potential Chinese steps to ease their domestic situation, which in turn might undercut the global market. The fact that bulls could not push the May CBOT future above resistance associated with its 40-day moving average (MA) Thursday may also have provoked long liquidation on this last day of the business week. May soybeans slid 1.5 cents to $14.475/bushel early Friday morning, while May soyoil edged .06 cent higher to 50.48 cents/pound, while May meal lost $0.5 to $422.4/ton.

Wheat futures seemed to follow corn and soybeans lower Thursday night. Improving precipitation prospects for the U.S. winter wheat crop are probably exerting persistent pressure upon prices as well. The fact that the May CBOT contract set back sharply after testing resistance around its 40-day MA on Wednesday and Thursday also suggested the golden grain market will have to consolidate recent gains before retesting that band of selling. May CBOT wheat futures dipped 1.75 cents to $7.27/bushel in pre-dawn price action, while May KCBT wheat lost 2.25 cents to $7.5825, and May MGE futures skidded 0.5 cent to $8.0225.

Cattle rallied Thursday in response to news that Congress is acting to prevent packing industry shutdowns this summer, then proved unable to sustain those gains overnight. Persistent wholesale weakness is apparently undercutting the market. Moreover, choice cutout dipped below select values Thursday afternoon. This is surely a temporary phenomenon, since choice product is simply superior in quality. Still, it strongly suggests there is a relative glut of well-fed animals, which in turn implies plentiful supplies of market ready cattle. April cattle futures slipped 0.27 cents to 126.15 cents/pound early Friday morning, while August lost 0.32 cents to 123.20. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle declined 0.12 cents to 138.17 cents/pound, and August inched downward 0.02 cents to 148.07.

CME lean hog futures rebounded Thursday in apparent response to Congressional action and to firming cash and wholesale prices, but were mixed early Friday morning. Traders continue anticipating a major seasonal price surge in the second quarter, but the potential for sustained weakness into early April remains an obstacle to potential CME rallies. April hogs rose 0.10 cents to 78.45 cents/pound in overnight trading, while June was unchanged at 89.55.

Cotton futures seemed to be trying to stabilize early Friday morning in the wake of recent gyrations. The market spiked upward last week, then gave back a significant portion of those gains early this week. Thus, traders will probably covering recently established shorts today, thereby tending to give futures a modest upward bias. However, overnight talk that India will import only about 1.5 million bales this year, whereas over 2.0 million tonnes was expected, may weigh upon prices. May cotton rose 0.13 cents to 88.33 cents/pound in early Friday morning action, while December dropped 0.64 cents to 87.18.



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