Corn futures are back trading near their highs for day with nearby futures up 6 to 9 cents and deferred contracts up 1 to 5 cents.
- Short-covering following yesterday's sharp losses is the dominant feature today. Corn futures are enjoying support from a weaker U.S. dollar index.
- On the fundamental side, the market is finding light support on planting delay talks. Yesterday's crop progress data indicated corn planting is off to an even slower-than-anticipated start with just 6% of the crop planted as of Sunday, compared to the five-year average of 14%.
- While a subject for conversation, traders recognize there is still plenty of time to get the corn crop planted.
- Nevertheless, traders are looking at yesterday's NWS 6- to 10-day forecast which suggests planting will remain slow as below-normal temps are expected. There is rain and severe weather in the near-term forecast as well.
- Support also stems from news Mexico purchased 240,000 MT of corn for 2014-15.
- Also reminding of strong demand, South Korea bought 60,000 MT of corn that can be sourced from the U.S. or South America.
- Interior and Gulf basis levels remain steady.
Soybean futures have moved solidly lower after seeing two-sided trade earlier this morning. Futures are 5 to 13 cents lower with the nearby May contract leading declines.
- Profit-taking quickly overwhelmed the small Tuesday correction as traders were discouraged that the front-month contract could not penetrate the $15.00 level.
- Traders are shrugging off news China's Ministry of Commerce says it expects the country to import 6.9 MMT of soybeans this month, which is up sharply from its previous forecast of 5.11 MMT.
- In addition, traders are ignoring news Brazil's crushing association Abiove lowered its soybean export outlook by 1 MMT to 43 MMT. It maintained its soybean production forecast at 86.1 MMT.
- New-crop beans are under pressure on ideas the unfavorable weather forecast for planting corn makes it more likely beans will hold onto record-high March planting intentions.
- Interior soybean basis levels are stronger, while Gulf basis is steady.
Wheat futures are 2 to 7 cents higher.
- Wheat futures are higher on profit-taking and spillover from gains in corn futures.
- Concerns about the condition of the HRW wheat crop in the Plains exist, but forecasts calling for increased chances of precipitation over the region leave traders in a neutral position on wheat today.
- USDA yesterday raised the amount of the winter wheat crop it rated "poor" to "very poor" by 1 percentage point to 33%.
- When this data is plugged into our weighted Crop Condition Index (scale of 0 to 500, with 500 being perfect), it shows the HRW crop dropped more than 3 points from last week and the SRW crop improved nearly 2 points from last week. Kansas and Oklahoma saw the greatest declines.
- USDA's report showed just 10% of the spring wheat crop was seeded as of Sunday -- 9 percentage points behind the norm.
- Limiting buying enthusiasm is news Ukraine's ag ministry says farmers in the country have sown 2.55 million hectares of spring grain, or roughly 97% of the expected area.
- Gulf wheat basis is stronger today on increased demand.
Live and feeder cattle futures are mostly moderately higher.
- Short-covering coupled with stronger wholesale beef prices has live cattle futures higher today.
- Choice boxed beef is $2.26 higher this morning while Select is up $1.23. This follows a $2.71 surge in Choice boxed beef and a $2.84 jump in Select yesterday. However, movement slowed 68 loads. Retailers may be preparing for beef features for grilling season.
- The boost in wholesale prices coupled with recent weakness in cash cattle prices have erased more than $75 from packer negative margins. Packers are still cutting with about a negative $45 per head margin, however.
- There's no clear trend on potential cash cattle trade. This week's showlist is a mixed bag. Cattle supplies in the Southern Plains are estimated down 11,000 head, but Nebraska's showlist is expected to be up around 15,000 head.
- Strength in live cattle futures are lifting feeder cattle futures.
Lean hogs continue to trade mixed with the front May contract down 25 cents but the June through December contracts are slightly to moderately higher.
- The May contract is under pressure due to the slight premium it olds to the cash hog index, which is trending lower.
- Deferred contracts are seeing short-covering following yesterday's sharp losses.
- The wholesale trade continues to provide negative news. This morning the pork cutout value slipped another $1.26 on light movement of 137.68 loads. On Monday, the pork cutout value fell $1.93 and this failed to spur improved movement.
- The slippage in wholesale pork trims packer profit margins, but they remain in the black.
- Cash hog bids are under pressure as supplies are plentiful due to plant closures last Friday and/or Monday in observance of the Easter holiday.
- Traders are also reducing risk ahead of USDA's monthly Cold Storage Report. Last month's report favored market bears.