California's April Class 4a/4b milk prices followed the same trend as comparable federal order prices, with milk used for cheese and whey (4b) up slightly, while milk for butter/powder (4a) was slightly lower.
Despite declining milk prices, prices for U.S. replacement dairy cows held fairly steady in April, according to the latest USDA/NASS Ag Prices report. Nationally, quarterly dairy cow prices averaged $1,970/head in April, down just $20/head from January, but $160 more than April 2014.
A review of the cash flow statements for 75 global oil and natural gas companies finds that annual cash flow in 2014 was similar to 2013 and 2012, which is not unexpected given that North Sea Brent crude oil prices in 2014 averaged close to their levels in 2012 and 2013 despite a sharp decline in the last quarter. Combined cash from operations for this group of companies totaled $456 billion and capital expenditures totaled $449 billion (Figure 1). Capital expenditures for the full year decreased compared with 2013, driven by large cuts in planned investment spending in the fourth quarter. Low first-quarter 2015 crude oil prices suggest first-quarter results, which will be released over the next month, will likely show steep declines in cash flow and investment spending for this group of companies.
Markets plunged yesterday, with another day of double-digit losses in the nearby months. The August contract saw significant declines in both Class III and Cheese, with cheese trading down nearly 6¢, on the day, and Class III slipping nearly 50¢.
With the American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) conference wrapping up in Chicago, market participants get back to business. The trade will be faced with balancing the industry sentiment moving forward, a weakening technical picture, bearish fundamentals and a spot cheese market that has proven to be quite resilient of late.
Class III and Cheese softened as futures seem to need further upside spot price justification to maintain recent gains. May closed at $16.49/cwt., down 11¢. We expect that Class III will continue to slide back from last week’s highs.
The Class III market took a bit of a breather to close out last week after some big price movements. With the two major reports both supportive to the Class III market, and blocks up 3.5¢, May Class III futures were up 32¢; June was up a massive 65¢.
A bullish USDA American cheese stocks number late Wednesday helped spur another round of buying for both Class III and Cheese futures Thursday. After opening solidly higher, prices continued to trend higher all day, but our opinion is that such a rally will be short in duration, for several reasons.