Russian/Ukraine situation is boosting crop markets

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Russia’s invasion of Crimea sent grains and soy higher to start the week. Russia invaded the Crimean region of Ukraine over the weekend and seems to have the whole country in its sights. The potential implications of that news, including grain trade disruptions and/or embargoes sent the grain and soy markets soaring Sunday night. However, corn backed away from early highs despite a supportive Export Inspections result. May corn surged 10.5 cents to $4.74/bushel by late Monday morning, while December ran up 7.0 to $4.785.

The soybean complex couldn’t sustain Sunday night gains. Although soybeans aren’t all that big of a crop in the Black Sea region, Russia and Ukraine certainly grow much more than in the past. Traders are likely considering substitution effects as well, since a disruption of wheat exports from that area could spur soy usage. However, after rallying strongly Sunday night, beans gave back a big portion of the early advance. May soybeans rose 4.0 cents to $14.18/bushel late Monday morning, while May soyoil leapt 0.70 cents to 42.49 cents/pound, and May soymeal turned $2.5 lower to $455.2/ton.

The wheat markets are leading the way higher to start the week. The possibility that a conflict between Russia and Ukraine will greatly disrupt Black Sea exports and/or cause the U.N. or the Western Powers to boycott Russian wheat sent futures dramatically higher Sunday night. The weekly Export Inspections report was also supportive. May CBOT wheat futures rocketed 37.75 cents to $6.40/bushel around midsession Monday, while May KCBT wheat futures spiked 39.0 cents to $7.13, and May MWE futures vaulted 25.25 to $6.815.

Cattle futures turned mixed Monday morning. CME traders seem uncertain about likely short-term cattle and beef prospects in the wake of last week’s big surge. Despite its sizeable discount the nearby April future was trading lower around midsession. Conversely, much large discounts in deferred futures seem to be supporting those contracts. April cattle futures slipped 0.22 to 144.75 cents/pound shortly before midday Monday, while August climbed 0.37 to 133.00. Meanwhile, surging feed costs again depressed April feeder cattle 1.05 cents to 172.02 cents/pound, and August lost 1.17 to 174.40.

Bulls are pushing hog futures higher again this week. Big cash and wholesale pork gains posted last Friday encouraged bullish traders again at the start of this week’s trading. Bullish expectations built upon robust demand and seasonally tightening supplies are still spurring active buying. April hogs rocketed up 2.42 cents to 109.27 cents/pound late Monday morning, while June surged 1.25 to 113.47.

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