Corn futures are mostly 1 to 3 cents higher after trimming earlier losses.
- Corn futures have turned to the plus side on spillover buying on soybeans. Most contracts are back above $5.00.
- News flow is light today leaving corn futures subject to technical trading and some spillover buying from the surge in soybean futures.
- Traders note buying interest surfaced in the lead contract when it tested recent lows at $4.97 1/2.
- Traders received the first update on this year's planting progress yesterday afternoon. USDA reported that as of Sunday 3% of the nation's corn crop was seeded, which compares to the five-year average of 6% and 2% last year. But traders are shrugging off the data as too early in the season to be concerned about yield-cutting planting delays.
- However, weather forecasts make traders reluctant to press new-crop futures lower at this time. The return of wintry, wet weather this week along with forecasts for more precipitation and possibly more snow for some areas of the Midwest later this week are unsettling enough to curb selling pressure.
- Tensions in the Black Sea region continue to provide underlying support. Ukraine's grain stocks totaled 12.3 MMT as of April 1, up 14% from year-ago, according to the State Statistics Service.
- Gulf basis levels are mostly steady.
Old-crop soybeans are posting strong gains with old-crop contracts marking increases in excess of 20 cents. New-crop futures are posting double-digit gains.
- Old-crop soybean futures added on to double-digit gains following a stronger-than-expected NOPA crush report.
- Traders had expected the March NOPA crush to total 146.1 million bu, but the report showed actual crush of 153.84 million bushels. This is up from 141.6 million bu. in February. Some reports indicate this may be the highest March NOPA crush figure ever.
- Bulls spreading remains in play, with the front-month May contract above $15.00.
- New-crop beans are moving higher in sympathy with the gains in old-crop and in an effort to hold onto record-high planting intentions.
- Market technicals favor the bulls.
Gulf basis is steady this morning.
SRW wheat futures are posting gains in the teens across all three flavors of wheat.
- Wheat futures have trimmed early losses and are posting sharp gains.
- Escalating tensions in Ukraine reversed early selling pressure and have lifted futures higher.
- Rising concerns over the HRW wheat crop in the Plains are also adding to gains.
- USDA yesterday reported ongoing declines in the condition of the winter wheat crop. This translated to a 6-point drop for the HRW wheat crop on Pro Farmer's Crop Condition Index (0 to 500-point scale with 500 being perfect). The SRW crop posted a 4-point rise.
- Traders are also concerned about a freeze event on the Plains last night with more cold temps in the forecast holding the risk of additional damage.
- May SRW wheat futures have soared above recent highs and are testing resistance at $7.00.
Live cattle futures are mostly moderately lower today on profit-taking. Feeder cattle futures are also moderately lower.
- Profit-taking continues to dominate cattle futures trading today along with fund selling.
- However, selling is being kept in check by the discount April and June futures hold to last week's cash cattle trade at $147 to $150.
- Packers cutout margins continue to run in the red at more than $100 a head, making them reluctant buyers. Slightly higher showlist estimates this week will give packers extra leverage in negotiations this week.
- Trade may take place earlier than normal as many plants want to get supplies bought ahead of the upcoming holiday weekend.
- The wholesale market is flashing plus signs today. Choice boxed beef is 95 cents higher and Select beef is up $2.03 this morning. Movement is decent at 88 loads.
- Profit-taking and the upswing in corn futures has feeder cattle futures under pressure today.
Lean hog futures continue to trade mixed with the May and June contracts slightly to moderately weaker, the summer contracts slightly higher and deferred contracts down $1 or more.
- Profit-taking has lean hog futures on the defensive this morning along with weakness in the wholesale market.
- However, the $2 discount to the cash hog index has limited losses in the June. The cash hog index has declined while futures have risen in recent sessions, substantially narrowing this gap.
- Traders are looking for the cash trade to firm later this week as packers line up supplies for the return to a full week work schedule.
- Wholesale pork took another dive this morning as the pork cutout fell $1.25. Movement is a moderate 161.21 loads.