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Corn futures are trading steady to fractionally higher this morning after double digit losses on Tuesday. It was new selling, with preliminary open interest for Tuesday up 16, 910 contracts. Most of the increase was in July, Sep and Dec futures. The USDA Prospective Plantings report put national corn acreage at 89.2 million, down 1.8 million from last year and slightly above the average pre-report estimate. March 1 corn stocks, at 7.744 billion, were up from 7.008 billion at this time last year and also at the high end of the trade estimates.
Soybean futures are currently 3 to 4 cents higher after a see saw session on Thursday which ended about a nickel higher. Open interest was up on the two sided trade. The USDA survey found 84.635 million intended against a trade average guess of 85.934 million. The trade has fairly consistently over estimated the March Intentions. The average soybean stocks estimate was near 1.35 billion bushels and a little larger than the USDA figure at 1.334 billion. That was still a bit of a jump from the 994 million bushels in inventory one year ago.
Wheat futures are trading 1 to 2 cents lower in Chicago and KC this morning, with Minneapolis futures still on the plus side. Futures took a 15-19 cent hit yesterday despite the USDA report numbers being slightly positive vs. expectations. They had rallied sharply on Monday. In the trading arena this is called “buy the rumor, sell the fact”. Minneapolis futures were up 3.5% for the month, but down 7.4% for the quarter. Chicago SRW was down 13.2% for the JFM quarter. All-wheat acreage was expected to come in above 55.7 million and was put at 55.367 million. Other Spring estimates averaged 13.3ma; USDA found less than 13 million. Trade estimates for March 1 wheat stocks also were above the official USDA figure of 1.124 billion.
Live cattle and feeder cattle futures closed lower yesterday. The April live cattle lost more than $1 in spread trading with April hogs. The back months were down less. The CME feeder cattle index rose $1.16 to $218.89 and supported nearby April feeder futures. The cash market was quiet. Though sparse, cash asking prices are in the $167 area and higher in the South and $267-268 in the North. Slaughter for week to date is 218,000, 6,000 ahead of a week ago but 17,000 below a year ago. USDA reports higher wholesale beef prices with Choice boxes up 90 cents at $251.70 per cwt and Select up 91 cents at $247.62.
Lean hog futures closed higher. The CME lean hog index dropped 43 cents to $59.96. In the cash market, Iowa/Minnesota cash hog prices averaged $56.47, down 12 cents and Western Corn Belt prices dropped 15 cents to $56.25. No price is reported for the Eastern Corn Belt. Slaughter for the week so far is 861,000, 5,000 below last week but 53,000 over this time last year. The pork carcass cutout dropped just 3 cents to $65.36 despite every cut but hams and loins being in the red, led by picnics, off $1.88.
Cotton futures are trading 20 to 30 points lower this morning. They closed 46 to 58 points higher on Tuesday. USDA reports farmers intend to plant 9.549 million acres, down 1.49 million from last year and below USDA’s February estimate. That is the smallest intended acreage base since 2009. Certified stocks for March 30 rose to 11,011 with 719 new certs. There are 348 awaiting review. The dollar was up 361 points yesterday and a negative input for commodities. This morning it was initially stronger, but is now fading.