Ag markets diverged Friday

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Corn futures turned decidedly lower Friday. Corn futures rose quite modestly Thursday despite strong export news and the destruction of an airliner over a rebel-held area of Ukraine. The uncertainty of the latter situation could affect prices through summer, but the muted reaction to those events apparently persuaded traders that it’s not a big issue. Ideal weather keeps pointing to a huge crop and lower prices. September corn fell 8.25 cents to $3.70/bushel Friday, while December lost 8.75 cents to $3.785.

Beans and meal weakened despite good export news. Soybean and product futures firmed Thursday night, then rallied further in response to news of sizeable new-crop bean sales. However, bulls in the bean and meal pits couldn’t sustain the gains, possibly due to glorious short-term weather forecasts for the Corn Belt. Oil firmed from depressed levels. August soybean futures closed 2.0 cents higher at $11.7675/bushel Friday afternoon, while November futures tumbled 8.75 cents to $10.8525. August soyoil advanced 0.20 cents to 36.57 cents/pound, while August soymeal slid $0.2 to $380.3/ton.

The wheat markets reversed Thursday’s gains. Wheat futures reacted strongly to Thursday’s Ukraine news, but slipped later in the day. The underlying suggestion that the event won’t greatly affect Black Sea wheat trading seemed to coalesce this morning, as indicated by the sizeable losses posted as the day passed. Talk that U.S. winter wheat yields have improved as the harvest advances reportedly depressed KC prices. September CBOT wheat dove 18.5 cents to $5.3225/bushel at their Friday settlement, while September KC wheat dropped 15.25 cents to $6.3375/bushel, and September MWE wheat sank 6.75 cents to $6.3025.

Cash firmness again supported cattle futures. Bearish summer expectations have weighed on cattle futures lately, but persistent cash market firmness rather clearly spurred renewed CME buying Thursday and Friday. On the other hand, big beef losses at noon may bode ill for next week’s outlook. August live cattle jumped 0.97 cents to 151.62 cents/pound in late Friday action, while December climbed 0.70 cents to 154.55. Meanwhile, feeder cattle reversed sharp early gains despite big corn losses. August feeders rose just 0.05 cents to 211.65 cents/pound, and October added 0.20 to 212.55.

CME hogs traded quite mixed on Friday. Ideas that late-week cash market slippage presaged much more of the same seemingly weighed heavily upon nearby hog futures Friday. However, the December future led the deferred contracts higher, thereby suggesting traders are relatively optimistic about the longer-term outlook. August hog futures plunged 1.77 cents to 127.07 cents/pound at Friday’s close, while December bounced 0.70 cents to 103.60.

Cotton futures ended the week on a firm note. ICE cotton values rallied in the face of Ukrainian events and slumping equity markets Thursday. That seemingly set the stage for continued strength today, especially with stock indexes suggesting no economic fallout from yesterday’s events. ICE futures declined in early trade, but pushed back above unchanged levels late in the day. December cotton ended the week 0.09 cents higher at 67.74 cents per pound, while March futures gained 0.16 to 68.39 cents/lb.

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