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AgriCharts Market Commentary
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Corn futures closed higher by roughly a cent. Trade estimates for the USDA weekly export sales report released this morning were 700,000 MT to 1 MMT; the actual number from USDA was 986,800 MT, with more than 83% of the total consisting of fresh old crop sales. China bought 380,400 MT of sorghum last week as well. Private exporters today reported to the USDA a sorghum sale of another 108,000 MT to unknown destinations this morning under the daily system. The average trade guess in Bloomberg’s survey for corn ending stocks in the March 10 WASDE report is 1.831 billion bushels, a touch higher than the February estimate.
Soybean futures closed 8-10 cents lower in the face of the flow of the record Brazilian harvest. Net export sales, at 501,200, were slight above the high end of the pre-report estimates of 300,000-500,000 MT. All but 1,700 MT were for delivery of old-crop. The US has already shipped 85% of the current full year forecast from USDA, and total commitments including unshipped sales are 98% of the forecast. The trade average guess for soybean ending stocks next Tuesday is 377 million bushels, slipping about 8 million bushels from the February USDA figure of 385 million on assumptions of another hike in projected exports.
Wheat futures closed down by double digits, with the exception of Kansas City, which dropped 9 1/2 cents. The bulls need a story and they do not have one right now. Export sales reported this morning were just 5,800 MT more than the previous week, coming in at 507,600 MT in this report. They were, however, on the higher end of published trade expectations. The US Dollar Index burst through the 96 level and is up 439 points, continuing make US products more costly in a highly competitive world export market.
Live cattle futures were lower on the day following the limit-up move seen on Wednesday and noting relatively weak beef export sales in the weekly report from USDA this morning. The latest CME feeder cattle index reported was $206.66 for Wednesday, up one penny. Cash cattle trade has not developed with enough sales to determine market trend this week as packers and feedlots remain in a standoff with a spread of about $5/cwt. The Choice boxed beef cutout was up $0.62 at $249.20, and Select boxes were down 65 cents at $246.58. Week to date cattle slaughter at 432,000 head is up 15,000 from last week but lags year ago by 10,000. USDA this morning reported weekly net beef export sales for the week ended Feb. 26 at 8600 MT, the lowest weekly total since mid-December.
Lean hog futures closed lower under the weight of growing volume of pork produced. Not only are numbers up but weights continue high. The debate is whether these knowns are already built into the current level of prices. The pork carcass cutout averaged $68.27 today, down $1.71. Cash hog base prices in Iowa/Minnesota and the Western Corn Belt were up a nickel at $64.94 and $6.92, respectively. This morning, USDA reported net weekly pork export sales of 30,900 MT the strongest in eight weeks and up 62% from the previous week. The CME Lean Hog index for Mon/Tuesday was another $1.06 higher from the Fri/Monday average, coming in at 67.73. Estimated week to date hog slaughter is 1.7 million head, up 42,000 from last week and 73,000 larger than the same point in 2014.
Cotton futures lost 37 to 52 points today as technical selling continued and USDA this morning reported a net reduction of 62,500 RB for old-crop Upland cotton export sales commitments in the week ended February 26. New-crop bookings were for 22,000 RB. Pima sales came in at 6,100 RB of old crop with no new-crop bookings. Cert stocks rose to 9,858 bales from 9,317 bales with 981 new certs, and 440 decerts and another 947 contracts awaiting review. The Cotlook A Index is 70.25, down 95 points.