Grain markets surged in the face of general market weakness

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Corn futures continued their recent surge Friday morning. Nearby contracts seem to be reacting to talk of old-crop supply tightness, while deferred futures are rallying on ideas that wet, cool will delay plantings substantially, thereby potentially reducing harvest potential and shifting acreage to soybeans. May corn had risen 7.25 cents to $6.585/bushel late Friday morning, while December gained 4.55 cents to $5.485.

Talk that the domestic soybean situation remains critically tight and might require demand rationing (via high prices) during the weeks and months just ahead reportedly boosted nearby bean futures Friday morning. Conversely, the wet, cold spring weather is increasing the chances of significant acreage switches from corn to soybeans by late spring. That could substantially increase the fall harvest and depress prices. Thus, new crop prices are much weaker than nearby values. Meanwhile, sliding energy markets were apparently undercutting soybean oil. May soybeans surged 8.75 cents to $14.1075/bushel around mid-session Friday, while May soyoil fell 0.48 cents to 49.29 cents/pound, and May meal climbed $5.2 to $400.2/ton.

Wheat futures are apparently rallying in response to weather issues. Freezing Southern Plains temperatures over the past week apparently damaged significant portions of winter wheat fields in that region. Cold, wet conditions may also hamper spring wheat seedings, especially in the Northern Plains. The latter point seems to be powering the Chicago and Minneapolis markets strongly higher. May CBOT wheat futures jumped 15.75 cents to $7.135/bushel just before lunchtime Friday, while May KCBT wheat surged 14.5 cents to $7.5325, and May MGE futures leapt 18.75 cents to $8.0825.

Cattle traders are apparently hoping for short-term cash firmness, since the expiring April future rose about 0.5 cents to 126.10 cents/pound Friday morning. The deferred contracts posted more moderate gains. The slight discount in the April future might imply the market is undervalued to some, but others with the cattle/beef market’s history of late-April weakness in mind are probably less sanguine. Feeder futures seemed to be suffering from rising grain prices once again. June cattle rose 0.15 cents higher to 120.80 cents/pound in late Friday morning action, while December added 0.02 cents to 126.85. May feeder cattle futures dipped 0.27 cents to 141.50 cents/pound, and August sank 0.50 cents to 148.32.

The April hog contract seems set to expire on a strong note at noon, but the deferred swine contracts were generally weak Friday morning. AM cash quotes were rather scarce, but those that were published were also rather weak. We have to wonder if hog traders are reacting the weakness infecting the equity, energy and metal markets Friday morning, since they had seemingly have little reason to expect an end to the ongoing rally in cash and wholesale values at this point. The lightly traded May hog contract slid 0.45 cents to 86.95 cents/pound around midsession Friday, while the June contract declined 0.35 cents to 89.10.



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