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Corn futures maintained the 4 cent gain seen at midday and added a fraction to it, but still ended the week a fraction of a cent lower. The weekly CFTC report showed managed money continuing to lighten up on their net long corn position, cutting it by about 20% from the previous Tuesday. Private exporters reported to the USDA 140,000 MT of corn sold to Saudi Arabia this morning. The ethanol industry is fired up about a bill introduced into the Senate yesterday: the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015 would remove corn ethanol from the RFS mandates in an effort to provide additional impetus to other biofuels. (Of course, nothing about eliminating government subsidies for fossil fuels was included.) It is unlikely to pass but bears watching. Land owners got a break today when USDA announced a one-month extension in the deadline to update yield history or reallocate base acres. The due date was today but was pushed back to March 31, the same deadline that producers have to choose ARC vs PLC. The crop insurance guarantee discovery period ended today with an average December futures price of about $4.15.
Soybean futures fizzled after a strong start to the day, but still finished with gains of 4-6 cents on the day. The complex also was the strongest performer of the crops this week, with beans up more than 3% and bean oil even more than that. In the COT report from the CFTC, the managed money net position flipped to be net long by 284 contracts as of Tuesday, after being net short for five weeks in a row. The Brazilian trucker strike still has some roads blocked as haulers seek better terms from the government, making importers leery of near-term purchases. US export commitments as a % of total projected exports for the marketing year now equal 97%. Chinese purchases from the US of 27.47 MMT are approaching the 27.6 MMT purchased from here last year, and 2.08 MMT of outstanding sales to China remain to be shipped. The US national average basis has strengthened nearly 5 cents from a month ago. The average closing price for November soybean futures during the month of February turned out to be about $9.73.
Wheat futures outshined the other crops today with gains of almost 5 cents to more than 14 cents. On a weekly basis, Chicago was up 7.2 cents and Kansas City 1.2 cents, while Minneapolis was one of just two markets in the red. US exports continue to be priced out of many markets, which has kept exports rather mediocre. Total US export commitments as a % of total projected exports are at 88% vs. the five year average of 90%. The weekly Commitment of Traders Report from the CFTC showed managed money accounts getting more short by a net -5,989 contracts in Chicago wheat, and they reduced their net long in KC wheat by a net -4,460 contracts.
February live cattle futures ended the day with a loss of more than $3 as they went into expiration, but the new lead month rallied $1.90 on the day. Feeders were lower in the morning but recovered with nice gains as well and traders rolled into future months and likely squared positions not only for the week but for the month. The CME feeder cattle index reported for Feb. 26 is $207.72, down 55 cents. The Choice boxed beef price averaged $247.58, a gain of 55 cents, and Select, up 67 cents at $245.57. Weekly slaughter is estimated at 523,000 head, up 2K from a week ago, but off 47K head from the same period a year ago. For the week, live cattle gained $3.45 and feeders, $2.73. Boxed beef prices for Choice were up 3.1% from Friday to Friday, and Select boxes gained 3.4%.
Lean hog futures closed 25-60 cents higher today and 7.5 cents over the close last Friday, partly supported by slaughter that fell 0.8% from the prior week, to 2.26 million head. The latest CME Lean Hog index for Feb. 25 is $63.38, up $1.32. Cash hog base prices were down substantially this morning but recovered to $66.26, a loss of just 12 cents on the day, in Iowa/Minnesota. The Western Corn Belt price was off 15 cents at $66.01. Eastern Corn Belt price was not reported. The pork carcass cutout was up $2.38 at $70.51. Week to date slaughter including Saturday estimates is 2.262 million head, down 18K head from the previous week, but up 120K head from the same week a year ago.
Cotton futures ended the day with losses of about a quarter to almost a half cent, but showing a small gain from last Friday. As cotton prices have been strengthening, managed money added more than 13,500 contracts, taking their net long position to nearly 47,000. Crude oil futures were up $1.59 to $49.76 as this was written. The USD index stayed red for most of the day, but was above the 95.25. The AWP for the week of Feb. 27-March 5 is 49.48 cents and the loan deficiency payment is 2.52 cents, the lowest LDP since the end of October. USDA reports average spot quotations were 25 points higher in the week just ended than the prior week.