Corn futures ended lower. News of slower than expected growth in China’s GDP pressured corn and other commodity markets on Friday. Strength in the dollar and weakness in the wheat market pulled corn down as May futures fell to a two week low. Rain is forecast across the Corn Belt through the weekend into early next week. The rainfall will slow planting, but also provide needed moisture for planting and early crop development. May corn settled 10 cents lower at $6.27 1/2 and December was 12 1/4 cents lower at $5.34 1/2.
Soybean futures settled lower on Friday. China announced overnight that its first quarter GDP expanded at 8.1%. It was down from 8.9% in the previous quarter and it was lower than forecasts at 8.4%. China is the world’s largest soybean importer, and the GDP news raises question marks about the future pace of demand growth for soybeans. The news rallied the dollar and led to general selling pressure against other commodities including crude oil and precious metals. May futures closed 4 1/4 cents lower at $14.36 3/4 while November dropped 11 cents at $13.61 3/4.
Wheat futures finished lower Friday. Forecasts for rain in Europe weighed on the market, as prices had been up on concerns of dryness there affecting the wheat crop. Adding to the selling pressure were reports in the U.S. Midwest indicating that the recent drop in temperatures is not believed to have caused significant damage to the wheat crop. Outside markets added pressure as well. CBOT May was 15 3/4 cents lower at $6.23 1/2; KBOT May was 10 cents lower at $6.43; and MGE May was 12 1/4 cents lower at $8.24 1/4.
Cattle futures were lower. Cash cattle trade this week was mostly steady with a week ago at $122 in the southern Plains. Cattle slaughter was down 6% from the prior week and 10% from a year ago. However, futures were under pressure Friday as outside markets and profit-taking after a sharp rally the previous couple days put futures on the defensive. Beef prices were higher in morning trade which provided modest support. June cattle futures settled $1.08 dollars lower at $116.08 and August was $1.10 lower at $119.05.
Lean hog futures were sharply lower on Friday. The hog market had everything going against it Friday with lower cash hog and pork prices and pressure from outside markets. Once prices started falling sell-stops were triggered and traders started liquidating ahead of the weekend. By the end of the session most contracts were down by close to the daily limit. The May contract closed at $90.13, down $3. June was also down $3 at $90.23.