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Corn futures closed down 2.75 cents despite strong export inspections shown in the weekly report this morning. This week posted an 18.6% increase from the prior week and was up more than 20% from a year ago. YTD corn export inspections are 101.6% of a year ago. Weekly export sales reported on Friday were also bullish, marking a new high for the marketing year. Sorghum export inspections were also larger than last week and the MYTD total is nearly 208.5% of what it was for the same week a year ago. The difference between the value of ethanol and DDGS and the cost of the corn for production continues to be relatively narrow, reported by USDA for the Eastern Corn Belt at $1.63 as of Friday, up from $1.57 the prior week but down from $3.671 a year ago. Iowa’s rate was $1.29 versus $2.79 a year ago and Nebraska was a few cents less. Gulf barge basis for corn weakened by nearly 3 cents today, while sorghum bids were mixed, from down 5 to up 4 cents.
Soybean futures closed with gains mostly near 11 cents. The hot and dry weather on pod filling soybeans in some key growing areas of Brazil generated some market talk that likely supported prices today. Export inspections this week were slightly larger than last week, but off 24.39% from the total for the same week a year ago. YTD inspections are still up 17.7% from a year ago. The Brazilian farm consulting group AgRural says the harvest is about 3% complete, but cautioned that rain is still needed in some key areas if it is going to keep its production estimate at 95 MMT next month. Many of the major growing areas of Argentina are expected to have mostly favorable conditions for their developing soybeans.
Wheat futures closed nearly a dime lower in the March contracts, though MPLS wheat held its losses today to 7 cents. Weekly export inspections were nothing that the market could get excited about at 263,035 MT. That was down 16.3% from last week and well below the weekly total for a year ago. YTD inspections are now almost 33% below a year ago. The net position for managed money accounts had flipped from long to short during the week ending Tuesday January 20. Their net long position in KC wheat shrank as well. Warm weather with highs in the 60s, and lows above freezing for some winter wheat areas bears watching. Barge-based wheat bids at the Gulf were off a dime or more on the day.
Live cattle futures finished the day mostly in the red, but the August and October contracts posted gains of 50 and 42.5 cents respectively. Feeder cattle futures were sharply lower on the day. The market remains focused on concerns about demand as pork and poultry steal center stage thanks to lower prices and especially with supermarket Super Bowl ads strongly pushing barbeque, ribs and wings. Cash cattle activity was quiet today with the bulk of sales last week reported at $160. Boxed beef cutout is reported down $2.33 at $251.41 for Choice and down $2.44 at $244.79 for Select. Cattle slaughter is estimated at 112K, the same as a week ago and up 4K from a year ago. The CME feeder cattle index is $210.82, down $2.84.
Lean hog futures closed with triple digit gains today higher after their dive last week on the realization of larger than expected pork supplies. The carcass cutout edged 9 cents higher on Monday, to $84.47, led by the rib cut. USDA estimated Monday slaughter at 435K, up nearly 10% from a week earlier when it was 396K, and also well above a year ago when it was reported at 404K. On a live basis, cash hogs in Iowa/Minnesota averaged $68.44, down 54 cents; Western Corn Belt was at $68.03, down 83 cents; and Eastern Corn Belt was up $1.64 at $67.86. The CME lean hog index is $73.67, down 54 cents. EU prospects point to a weak first quarter with the only positive demand features being a weak euro and new negotiations with Russia. Both Brazil and China have positive prospects for the first quarter, according to Rabobank – the former due to good domestic and export demand and the latter because its sow herd is in decline.
Cotton futures closed sharply higher after the losses seen last week. The March contract was down more than 3% last week, but was up 2.1% on the day. Export sales reported last week were a new high for the marketing year in both Upland and Pima cotton. Crude oil futures slipped 44 cents per barrel today, and the US Dollar Index crept about 150 points higher on the day. Certified stocks are at 50,294, with 2,651 new certs and 5,194 bales awaiting review. The Cotlook A index is 65.80, down 0.20. USDA reported the following prices for the week ending Jan. 29: AWP, 45.59 cents; LDP, 6.41 cents.