What Traders are Talking About:
Overnight highlights: As of 6:00 a.m. CT, corn futures are steady in most contracts, soybeans are mostly 5 to 6 cents higher and wheat futures are narrowly mixed. Light and choppy trade is likely throughout the day as traders are evening positions ahead of Friday's USDA reports. Cattle futures are expected to open mixed, while hogs are called weaker this morning.
* Harvest now ahead of average pace. Corn and soybean harvest is now ahead of the five-year average pace. USDA says as of Sunday 73% of the corn crop and 86% of the soybean crop has been harvested, compared to the five-year averages of 71% and 85%, respectively. Cool, wet conditions will slow the harvest pace this week, but the fact of the matter is that harvest of a record corn crop and a very big soybean crop is progressing very rapidly after getting off to a slower-than-normal start due to delayed crop maturity.
The long and short of it: Active harvesting of big crops is a wet blanket on the corn and soybean markets. But with corn and soybean harvest now into the final stages, the threat of seasonal pressure should start to ease. The biggest risk to the corn market, in particular, remains a pickup in commercial selling if late-harvested corn is marketed instead of going into storage.
* Winter wheat crop ratings improve. As of Sunday, USDA rated 63% of the winter wheat crop "good" to "excellent" compared to 61% the previous week. When USDA's weekly crop condition ratings are plugged into the weighted Pro Farmer Crop Condition Index (0 to 500 point scale), the HRW crop improved 4 points to 364, while the SRW crop firmed 1 point to 378. The bulk of the improvement in the HRW crop was in Montana. For a more in-depth look at our Crop Condition Index, click here.
The long and short of it: Winter wheat crop ratings remain relatively strong and weather is favorable for crop development as rains are expected through the Plains and Midwest this week.
* Cotton slide continues. Cotton futures ended lower Monday, marking the 12th consecutive day of losses for the market. While seasonal pressure from the harvesting of the U.S. crop is weighing on the market, much of the pressure is tied to concerns Chinese demand for U.S. cotton will slump. Falling prices would typically encourage more export demand, but with China already sitting on an estimated 60% of global supplies and speculation the Chinese government could soon start selling those massive reserves onto the domestic market, there are concerns Chinese buying will dry up.
The long and short of it: December cotton futures are severely oversold based on the Relative Strength Index, suggesting a correction is due. But attitudes are highly negative right now and cotton futures have proven in the past they can remain in highly oversold (or overbought) territory for an extended period without a correction.
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