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Corn futures ended the day two or three cents higher, with May posting a 2 3/4 cent gain for the week. Sales to China during the past four weeks total just 144,042 MT, but that is more than 58% of their total bookings for this marketing year to date. For some perspective, total corn export commitments to Unknown destinations shrank by 308,899 MT during the same four weeks. The Chinese government has begun auctioning off the corn reserves that it bought at harvest to support Chinese farmers. There are indications they are going to offer subsidies to end users to buy the intervention corn, since stocks are burdensome. Celeres issued its latest estimate for the Brazilian corn crop at 80.3 MMT, which is much higher than the figure USDA issued in the April WASDE report and up 3.5 MMT from the previous Celeres figure. In the weekly COT report from the CFTC, managed money accounts had flipped their net long position into a net short position that amounted to being net short -48,312 contracts as of the Tuesday close.
Soybean futures ended the session steady to slightly higher, and May futures were able to pick up more than 19 cents on the week. USDA weekly export sales reported for old crop were solid, but new crop sales were below expectations. US soybean export commitments YTD are still at 100% of year ago, ahead of the 97% average pace. Meal commitments are at 85% vs. 84% average. The story in meal is that unshipped business is 198% of last year at 3.009 MMT. Argentina Ministry of Agriculture reported 33% of the crop is harvested vs 22% at this time last year. Celeres issued its Brazilian bean crop production estimate at 93.9 MMT. The weekly COT report from the CFTC showed managed money accounts increasing their net short position by more than 33K contracts, to show their net position as of Tuesday at -81,716 contracts. The net position reported for the commercials was net long 5,113 contracts.
Wheat futures settled mixed, recovering from early losses in KC due to profit taking ahead of the weekend. Rains are moving across areas of Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma today through Sunday. US Export commitments total 98% of the full year forecast. They would typically be 101% by now. It will thus take a stronger than usual shipping pace to hit the recently lowered USDA figure of 880 million bushels for the year. The EU has now issued 28.2 MMT of export licenses for wheat, up 2.3 MMT from last year at this time. Their marketing year ends June 30. The French 2015 soft wheat crop is well behind last year in terms of maturity. Egypt is taking advantage of the price slide, scheduling an overnight purchasing tender for early June delivery.
Live cattle futures were limit down in the front three contracts today. Nearby April was down $1 for the week. Cash cattle trade started to develop after noon at $160-162. Volume thus far is still thin. Wholesale beef prices were quoted $2.59 lower in Choice boxes. Select was UNCH from the previous day, and down $0.08 for the week. Choice boxes were up $.63 for the week despite the Friday decline. Estimated weekly slaughter of 533,000 head is up 31,000 from last week, but still 32,000 shy of the same week in 2014. Beef production YTD is still down 5.4% vs. 2014, but gaining ground due to carcass weights averaging 25 pounds above year ago.
Lean hog futures ended the day down 10-50 cents and ended the week with $1.25 in red ink. The CME Lean Hog Index was up another 82 cents at $62.98. However, that is considerably lower than the new lead month, May, futures price. The Iowa/Minnesota cash price was down 76 cents at $61.97; Western Corn Belt, down 85 cents at $61.88. No price was reported for the Eastern Corn Belt. The pork carcass cutout price ended the day $1.85 higher at $67.99. Weekly slaughter is estimated at 2.243 million head, up 71,000 from the prior week and 240,000 from last year.
Cotton futures closed sharply lower on the session with losses of more than a penny in some contracts. This follows a 42-58 point loss on Thursday after USDA reported net weekly cotton export sales for old crop were a minus number. Stock market weakness seemed to be more of a factor than the weakened US dollar. Certified stocks for April 16 are 64,508 bales with 4,855 new certs, and another 1,338 bales awaiting review. USDA dropped the AWP for the week ending 4/23 to 50.31, boosting the LDP/MLG for this week to 1.69 cents from 0.91 cents last week. The Cotlook A index is 71.55, unchanged from the previous day.