Corn futures are mostly 1 to 3 cents lower in lackluster trade.
- Price action was muted in overnight trade, with focus on evening positions ahead of Thursday's key USDA reports.
- Surprisingly, the average pre-report guess for planted corn acreage is in line with year-ago, which led to short-covering in new-crop futures yesterday.
- The Quarterly Grain Stocks Report is expected to show corn stocks at 5.03 billion bu. as of March 1, which compares to 6.023 billion bu. the year prior.
- Gulf corn basis is steady this morning after starting the week stronger. Basis for immediate delivery is 62 cents above May futures.
Soybean futures are mixed, with old-crop contracts marginally to 2 cents higher and far-deferreds around a penny lower.
- As was the case with corn, price action was muted in the soybean pit overnight as traders' focus has turned to evening positions ahead of Thursday's key USDA reports.
- Traders look for the Prospective Plantings Report to reflect a 1.3-million-acre increase in soybean acreage intentions from last year.
- Meanwhile, traders look for soybean stocks as of March 1 to be down around 427 million bu. from last year at 947 million bushels.
- Gulf soybean basis is 2 to 3 cents weaker for nearby delivery. March delivery stands 65 cents over May futures. The softening of basis suggests demand has slowed.
Wheat futures are marginally to 2 cents higher on spreading with corn.
- May Chicago wheat futures are trading at a slight discount to May corn this morning, but the spread is correcting.
- Futures are also being supported by concerns about sub-freezing temps across areas of the Plains the past two nights.
- But without fresh demand news to digest, upside potential is limited as traders focus on evening positions ahead of Thursday's key USDA reports.
- Traders expect USDA to peg all wheat plantings at 56.4 million acres, up 700,000 acres from last year.
- Meanwhile, the quarterly stocks data is expected to show wheat stocks as of March 1 at 1.167 billion bu., which would be down 32 million bu. from year-ago.
Live cattle futures are called mixed as traders turn their attention to the beef market.
- Futures were slightly higher yesterday in reaction to the Cattle on Feed Report, but weakness in the boxed beef market will make it difficult for futures to generate much more than light followthrough buying this morning.
- Choice beef values slipped 85 cents yesterday and Select dropped $2.07 to return to a slight discount to Choice. The good news is lower prices spurred strong movement of 172 loads.
- Traders are still waiting on packers to begin bidding for cattle, but hopes are for at least steady cash trade given this week's tighter showlist.
Lean hog futures are called mixed as traders gauge pork demand and the cash market.
- Futures are expected to be choppy today as traders weigh weakness in the cash market against a firmer tone in the pork market.
- Pork cutout values firmed 68 cents yesterday to lift packers' profit margins, but this isn't expected to translate into improved demand for cash hogs.
- Packers are having no difficulty securing needs for this week's holiday-shortened kill schedule.
- April lean hog futures hold nearly a $4 premium to the cash index, which signals attitudes are more positive.