Corn futures are fractionally to 6 cents lower in old-crop futures while new-crop is mostly fractionally to 2 cents higher.
- Old-crop corn futures continue to see some light profit-taking after the market's limit-move to the upside yesterday.
- But new-crop contracts remain supported by concerns about a slow start to planting.
- As of Sunday, USDA reports just 5% of the nation's corn crop was planted -- the slowest pace since 1984.
- This is especially concerning considering the near-term forecast for continued cold and wet weather for much of the Corn Belt.
- News an unknown destination bought 120,000 MT of grain sorghum for 2013-14, is limiting gains as this signals importers are still seeking alternatives to U.S. corn.
Soybean futures favor the downside in mixed trade.
- Profit-taking has picked up in the soybean market after strong gains yesterday as traders even positions for month-end.
- Plus, soybeans stand to gain acres from likely corn planting delays. This is limiting buying interest in new-crop contracts.
- And while old-crop supplies remain tight, the South American crop is record-large and the ongoing bird flu situation in China is expected to limit the country's soy needs for feed.
- There were no deliveries against the May soybean contract on the first notice day, also speaking to tight supplies.
- Steady to lower Gulf basis levels this morning signals fresh demand news is lacking.
Wheat futures have staged an impressive rebound and are trading double-digit higher at all locations. Kansas City wheat is leading the charge with gains around 17 to 21 cents.
- USDA data yesterday reflected the amount of wheat rated "very poor" increased 2 percentage points last week while the amount of wheat rated "good" declined by 2 percentage points.
- Freezing temps in the forecast as far south as the Southern Plains for May 2-3 signal more deterioration may lie ahead.
- Crop scouts with the Wheat Quality Council's tour of the HRW Wheat Belt began sampling this morning. Traders expect results to confirm poor conditions of the crop.
- Plus the spring wheat planting pace at just 12% complete remains well behind 37% on average and 70% complete last year. Major flooding in the Red River Valley points to additional delays.
Live and feeder cattle futures are slightly to moderately higher in all but far deferred contracts.
- Some packers have placed initial bids but as these are below last week's mostly $128 trade and well below asking prices, late-week trade is expected.
- Early indications are that feedlots may have the advantage in cash negotiations as showlist estimates are tighter this week and boxed beef prices have improved recently, signaling beef demand is picking up as temps warm up.
- But the fact that last week's trade was already near record highs and that packers are cutting in the red adds some uncertainty.
- This morning, Choice values rose 17 cents and Select firmed $1.49, but movement slowed to just 72 loads.
- The slow movement keeps concerns about how consumers will respond to high beef prices in the face of a slow-growing economy close at hand.
- Feeder cattle futures are enjoying corrective short-covering, though gains in the corn market are limiting gains as this raises concerns about high feed costs.
Lean hog futures have improved to trade slightly to moderately higher.
- Ongoing improvement in the product and cash hog markets is encouraging additional buying in lean hog futures.
- The pork cutout value has been on the rise in recent weeks, though prices set back this morning. The pork cutout value slid 80 cents this morning, but movement improved to 158.3 loads.
- Traders are optimistic that relatively inexpensive pork stands to benefit this grilling season due to higher taxes and gas prices for most Americans.
- Seasonally tightening supplies are keeping cash hog bids steady to as much as $2.50 higher today, despite diminished profit margins for packers.
- The cash hog index has been on the rise of late. Thus, traders are not yet overly concerned about the nearly $7.50 discount the May contract holds to the cash hog index.