Ag markets staged a broad advance early Friday morning

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Corn futures built modestly upon their Thursday gains in early Friday trading, with traders once again citing the ongoing delays to Corn Belt plantings and the problems that creates for the price strength. Several pointed out that late plantings could push the pollination period into mid-to-late summer, thereby increasing the possibility of pollination problems. July corn rose 2.5 cents to $6.645/bushel in early Friday morning action, while December gained 1.25 cents to $5.6025.

After substantial losses earlier in the week, soybean futures regained their footing overnight. The market may simply have been oversold in the wake of the mid-week slide, whereas domestic supply tightness has not eased despite talk that the U.S. might import South American beans and the possibility that major U.S. acreage will shift toward beans due to planting delays. Indeed, the late decline has probably stifled farmer selling. July soybean futures advanced 6.0 cents to $13.7825/bushel early Friday morning, while July soyoil climbed 0.34 cents to 48.83 cents/pound but July soybean meal edged $1.4 higher to $407.6/ton.

Wheat futures moved slightly higher in early Friday morning trading. Traders seem indecisive in the wake of the results of the Wheat Quality Council tour of the Kansas winter wheat crop, which they stated at 313.1 million bushels. That compares to a five-year average of tour results at 341.3 mib and the actual 2012 total at 382.2 mib. The wintry weather that dominated the region overnight probably did not improve prospects. July CBOT wheat futures added 6.25 cents to $7.3475/bushel in pre-dawn Friday trading, while July KCBT wheat inched up 2.75 cents to $7.935 and July MGE futures rose 3.75 cents to $8.29.

Cattle futures continued their ongoing rally in Friday morning electronic trading. Modest cash gains probably encouraged bulls, but surging wholesale values are very likely driving the rally. The USDA stated choice beef cutout 1.09 cents higher at 200.58 cents/pound Thursday afternoon; that is within easy striking distance of the all-time high of 201.18 set in mid-October 2003. That may be smashed next week as grocers and consumers make a belated start to the spring grilling season, with cattle prices following beef values upward. June cattle pushed up 0.15 cents to 123.80 cents/pound overnight, while December added 0.05 cents to 128.52. August feeder cattle futures climbed 0.27 cents to 149.92 cents/pound, while November slipped 0.02 cents to 154.25.

CME lean hog seemed to follow the cattle/beef complex higher Thursday night, particularly since the afternoon reports were not supportive. That is, both the cash and wholesale quotes posted in the wake Thursday activity indicated surprising weakness. Still, history points to vigorous hog and pork gains during the coming days and weeks. The market is trying to figure out if those will justify the premiums built into CME futures. June hog futures rose 0.15 cents to 92.97 cents/pound early Friday morning, while December futures rallied 0.10 at 78.75.



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