There was little significant news concerning the crop markets overnight, which seemingly left them to continue trading on previous developments. Thus, corn futures declined modestly in apparent reaction to recent rains, which have greatly improved the central U.S. moisture situation, and forecasts for drier early-May weather, since that could allow plantings to accelerate rapidly. May corn slipped 0.75 cents to $6.3775/bushel early Wednesday morning, while December fell 3.0 cents to $5.1975.
The potential for accelerated corn plantings is supportive of the new crop soybean outlook, since that suggests limited acreage will shift from the former to the latter. Improved moisture levels also increase production prospects later in the year. The other factor supporting old crop values is the simple fact that tight supplies are supporting country prices well above those in Chicago. May soybeans rose 4.0 cents to $14.2375/bushel in pre-dawn Wednesday trading, while May soyoil gained 0.16 cents to 48.73 cents/pound, and May soybean meal gained $1.9 to $413.6/ton.
As in the corn pit, wheat futures again declined Tuesday night in response to improvements in the spring wheat outlook due to recent rains. Recent planting delays, as well as the frosts hitting the winter wheat crop seem to count for little with traders at this point. This slippage may also reflect the general pessimism about the commodity outlook during the weeks and months ahead. May CBOT wheat futures lost 3.0 cents to $6.945/bushel in early Wednesday morning electronic trading, while May KCBT wheat dipped 3.75 cents to $7.335 and May MGE futures skidded 1.25 cents to $8.14.
Cattle futures edged higher overnight. Traders are reportedly expecting firm to higher cash prices later this week as they anticipate improved consumer demand. That is, the spring grilling season has apparently been delayed by persistently chilly weather, so forecasts for spreading warmth in early May are encouraging market watchers. The fact that choice cutout values have risen moderately also seems to point toward steady-higher prices despite the seasonal increase in fed cattle supplies seen each spring. June cattle gained 0.07 cents to 120.90 cents/pound Tuesday night, while December added 0.10 cents to 126.35. May feeder cattle futures climbed 0.35 cent to 139.95 cents/pound, while August surged 0.97 cents to 149.10.
The prospect of warmer weather and surging consumer demand during the spring grilling season apparently boosted CME lean hog futures Tuesday and again early Wednesday morning. The underlying optimism was probably exaggerated by the wholesale gains posted Monday and Tuesday, although cash hog prices were mixed yesterday. May hog futures were unchanged at 87.82 cents/pound early Wednesday morning, while the June contract advanced 0.12 cents to 89.70.
Cotton futures continued their recent slide overnight. News of Chinese economic weakness and renewed talk of planned Indian sales from government stocks weighed upon cotton futures Tuesday. Even strong equity index gains did little to support prices, since traders and investors have seemingly become convinced that commodity inflation is no threat for the foreseeable future. Indeed, Goldman Sachs suggested yesterday that investors lighten their commodity market holdings. May cotton slid 0.63 cents to 82.05 cents/pound early Wednesday morning, while December dropped 0.64 cents to 84.77.