Choppy Overnight, Awaiting USDA's Baseline Projections

February 23, 2012 12:25 AM

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Overnight highlights. Following are highlights of overnight trade and opening calls:

Corn: Mixed. Futures are choppy this morning, with nearbys marginally lower and deferreds marginally higher amid spreading. The U.S. dollar index is weaker this morning, which helped to limit pressure on corn. Traders are anxious about this morning's USDA baseline projections, which they expect to show the market has done its job of bidding for acres. But remember, this is not USDA's survey-based projections, to be released March 30. But use the baseline projections as a guide ahead of the key Prospective Plantings Report.

Soybeans: 2 to 3 cents higher. Soybean were supported overnight by positive outside markets. Traders also expect USDA's baseline projections to show fairly stable soybean acres from last year, which has spurred widening of the new-crop soybean/corn spread. The recent aggressive buying pace from China is also supportive for soybeans, as it shows the country's commitment to high-quality U.S. beans. Export sources say China is concerned about the quality and quantity of this year's South American crop.

Wheat: 2 to 4 cents lower. Futures have slipped back into a follower's role, watching corn closely. Traders don't have a weekly export sales report to guide prices today (delayed because of President's Day), but expect tomorrow's sales report to reflect an uptick in demand. Pressure on the U.S. dollar index should limit losses in the wheat pit, although how corn goes... so goes wheat.

Live cattle: Mixed. Futures are called mixed, with pressure coming from yesterday's Cold Storage Report, while support comes from continued strength in the beef market. Choice beef values rose $2.73 yesterday and Select is up $1.48. But movement has slowed at these lofty prices, signaling some resistance to higher prices. Traders are still waiting on cash cattle trade to begin, and higher trade is expected due to tighter showlists and strength in the beef market.

Lean Hogs: Lower. Pressure on lean hog futures this morning is twofold -- pork cutout values slipped $1.14 yesterday and yesterday's Cold Storage Report showed total pork supplies above expectations. The report showed a lot of hams were available to buyers, but retailers simply haven't begun buying for Easter -- yet. Pressure on the pork market will weigh on the cash market today, as packers' profit margins have slipped back into the red.


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