Corn futures are 2 to 3 cents higher across the board ahead of midday.
- This morning's better-than-expected weekly export sales of 282,300 MT for 2012-13 and 371,000 MT for 2013-14 are giving corn futures a lift.
- Countering this, however, is the fact that the pace of exports remains lackluster.
- Also, China bought 13,700 MT of corn from India. While the total was light, this is the first time in decades such a sale has taken place -- emphasizing end-users are seeking alternatives to U.S. corn.
- This morning's National Drought Monitor reflected soil moisture improvement in the Midwest, but it also served as a reminder that more precip is needed and that frozen soils are preventing deep soil moisture improvement.
Soybean futures continue to soften. Old-crop futures are roughly 10 to 25 cents lower, while new crop beans are down 6 to 8 cents.
- Traders are booking profits in the bean market for the third consecutive day.
- South American supplies coming available are expected to significantly slow U.S. soybean exports. This is encouraging bull spread unwinding.
- It has been some time since a daily bean sale announcement. And Gulf basis levels have recently trended steady to lower, signaling this is unlikely to change soon.
- This morning's export sales report for the week ended March 7 signals a marked slowdown in U.S. bean buys has yet to occur, however. Sales of 657,700 MT for 2012-13 and 126,000 MT for 2013-14 met expectations and represent a solid tally.
- Improvement in the Midwest drought adds to ideas production will rebound this year, adding light pressure to new-crop beans.
Wheat futures are the upside leader with Chicago and Kansas City wheat mostly 8 to 12 cents higher and Minneapolis up 4 to 6 cents.
- Strong weekly export sales of 888,500 MT for 2012-13 and 198,500 MT for 2013-14 are giving wheat futures a boost. This signals U.S. wheat prices are competitive.
- Light support also comes from news Strategie Grains cut its 2013 wheat production forecast for the European Union by 0.6 MMT to 131.6 MMT.
- Also, this week's drought monitor reminded traders of widespread, major drought in winter wheat country. Abnormally warm temps in the Central and Southern Plains adds to dryness concerns.
- After recently expanding its wheat export limit to 5 MMT for private companies, India's food minister says the country is again considering further expanding its wheat export quota on a government-to-government basis due to large stockpiles.
Live cattle futures have softened to post slight losses. Feeder cattle futures are moderately lower.
- Traders continue to book profits as they wait for cash cattle trade to begin. Front-month futures are now in line with the bulk of last week's trade.
- Steady to higher cash cattle prices are expected. Feedlots continue to pass on bids of $125 to $126, as they feel boxed beef strength this week justifies at least steady prices.
- This morning, however, Choice and Select cuts softened 73 cents and 25 cents, respectively, and movement slowed to 69 loads. This is renewing concerns about tepid beef demand in the United States.
- Countering this is this morning's weekly beef export sales tally of 31,500 MT -- a marketing year high. This included 16,700 MT in Japanese beef buys, signaling demand in the region is finally picking up following the easing of age restrictions on U.S. beef imports.
- Early profit-taking in feeder cattle futures accelerated as corn prices firmed.
Lean hog futures are posting slight to moderate losses ahead of midday.
- Concerns about the pork market continue to weigh on lean hog futures. Some say this is due more so to an oversupply of pork than to poor consumer demand.
- Regardless, the recent declines in the pork market have cut into packer profit margins, limiting cash hog demand. Bids are steady to lower today as most are well supplied for near-term needs.
- April lean hogs are also being pressured by the nearly $3 premium the contract holds to the cash hog index.
- Traders will continue to watch for signs Easter- and grilling-related demand has helped the product market put in a low. Yesterday, the pork cutout valued firmed 8 cents and movement was decent.