Price action: Corn futures recovered into the close to end narrowly mixed. March through July futures closed 1/4 to 1 1/4 cents higher, with the rest of the market down 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 cents.
Fundamental analysis: Futures were choppy today, with early pressure tied to profit-taking following yesterday's gains and spillover from soybean futures. Futures were also pressured at times by forecasts for improved moisture for dry areas of Argentina this weekend. Traders were also unimpressed by this morning's weekly export sales report, as it showed sales of 186,800 MT for 2012-13 and sales of 66,500 MT for 2013-14, which was at the low end of pre-report expectations.
Late-session short-covering was tied to weakness in the dollar index and end-of-month positioning. Funds were buyers of 5,000 contracts (25 million bu.) of corn today.
Technical analysis: March corn futures spent the day pivoting around resistance at yesterday's high of $7.41 and closed just beneath that level. But a high-range close for the week would be positive and set the stage for followthrough buying next week. Bulls' next target is the November high of $7.67 1/2.
Hedgers: 100% sold on 2012-crop in the cash market -- 10% for March 2013 delivery. No 2013-crop sales recommended yet.
Cash-only marketers: 75% sold on 2012-crop --10% for March 2013 delivery; 15% for May 2013 delivery. No 2013-crop sales recommended yet.
Price action: Soybean futures settled 7 to 10 1/4 cents lower through the September contract. New-crop contracts were 2 1/2 to 5 cents lower.
Fundamental analysis: Soybean futures were pressured throughout the session by rains that fell on areas of Argentina overnight and forecasts for more precip into the weekend. The 11- to 15-day forecast also holds the hope of another rain event. These rains will help ease dryness concerns in some areas and were enough to encourage profit-taking following yesterday's strong gains.
Traders generally ignored demand news even though weekly export sales topped expectations at 386,000 MT for 2012-13 and 867,000 MT for 2013-14, with China as a buyer of nearly 1 MMT of the 1.253-MMT total. Also, USDA announced a daily sale of 220,000 MT of 2013-14 soybeans to China.
Technical analysis: March soybean futures remain in the uptrend from this month's low. Tough resistance stands at the December high of $15.01 1/4.
Hedgers: 100% sold on 2012-crop in the cash market. No futures/options positions at this time. No 2013-crop sales advised yet.
Cash-only marketers: 75% sold on 2012-crop production for harvest delivery. No 2013-crop sales advised yet.
Price action: Chicago wheat futures settled in the lower half of the market's daily trading range with losses of 4 to 7 3/4 cents. Kansas City wheat closed roughly 2 to 3 cents lower and Minneapolis wheat settled with fractional to 4-cent losses.
Fundamental analysis: Wheat futures took their cue from neighboring markets today, and thus faced profit-taking pressure to wrap up the month. This morning's weekly export sales of 293,600 MT for 2012-13 and 94,300 MT for 2013-14 came in within expectations, but the generally lackluster tally reminded the market that U.S. wheat is not competitively priced on the global export market.
But selling interest was limited to profit-taking as Russia's deputy prime minister is expected to discuss lifting the 5% grain import duty tomorrow and Ukraine's ag ministry is reportedly urging exporters to halt wheat exports and to refrain from additional exports. Meanwhile, the National Drought Monitor today showed little change to the major drought across winter wheat country.
Technical analysis: March Chicago wheat futures settled near the midway point of the consolidation range that has bound action the past few weeks. Resistance remains at the January high of $7.99 3/4, while support lies at last week's low of $7.63.
Hedgers: 75% sold on 2012-crop in the cash market. No 2013-crop sales advised yet.
Cash-only marketers: 75% of 2012-crop is sold. No 2013-crop sales advised yet.
Price action: Cotton futures closed mostly 5 to 46 points higher, although May closed 1 point lower in lackluster trade.
Fundamental analysis: Futures did a good job of shrugging on spillover from losses in the soybean market, as traders were encouraged by a solid weekly export sales tally. USDA reported cotton sales of 131,300 running bales for 2012-13, which was down 39% from the previous week. But traders said the tally was impressive considering that prices rose during this time. Cotton is also being supported by expectations U.S. acreage will be lower than year-ago. Chinese cotton acreage is also expected to decline this year.
Technical analysis: March cotton futures posted a high-range close, but remained within the boundaries of this week's trading range. Futures are working on sharp weekly gains to extend the strong price recovery from the November low. Resistance is now layered every penny higher starting at 85.00 cents, with key support at the August high of 78.02 cents.
Hedgers: 50% priced on expected 2012-crop production in the cash market.
Cash-only marketers: 50% priced on expected 2012-crop production in the cash market.