Ag markets end week on down note

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Corn stabilized at slightly lower levels Friday. U.S. dollar strength seemingly weighed upon the commodity sector in Friday action, with corn prices sustaining early losses. A respected industry analysis firm published a forecast for a huge US crop, but prices remained surprisingly stable. That seemingly confirms the bearish nature of current market sentiment. December corn futures closed 1.0 cent lower at $4.2725/bushel Friday afternoon, while May lost 1.75 cents to $4.4575.

Rising harvest forecasts sank beans and meal Friday afternoon. A respected ag industry firm boosted its prediction for the soybean crop in next Friday’s USDA reports, thereby depressing soybean and meal futures. However, the soyoil market continued rising in response to the bullish influence of surging Asian palm oil markets. January soybean futures tumbled 14.75 cents to $12.515/bushel late Friday afternoon, while December soyoil climbed 0.26 cents to 41.59 cents/pound, and December soymeal dropped $8.7 to $394.9/ton.

The wheat markets diverged at the end of the week. Although wheat prices generally dipped Friday morning, the Chicago market staged a significant comeback before Friday’s close. That buying seemingly represented fund short-covering, since those interests are concentrated in the CBOT pit. Weakness spilling over from the corn and bean markets, as well as strong production prospects for the US winter wheat crop apparently depressed Kansas City and Minneapolis prices. December CBOT wheat futures gained 0.25 cent to $6.6775/bushel at Friday’s close, while December KCBT wheat futures fell 7.0 cents to $7.335, and December MWE futures slid 4.75 to $7.255.

Traders cited beef weakness for undercutting cattle futures Friday. Although many aspects of the cattle/beef situation seem price supportive, CME prices turned decidedly lower today. Bears were reportedly reacting to the latest wholesale reports, which showed beef prices lower Thursday afternoon and again at midday. Reports of steady prices in midsession cash transactions probably encouraged selling as well. December cattle declined 0.65 cents to 132.07 cents/pound at their Friday close, while April dipped 0.32 to 133.45. January feeder cattle edged 0.20 cents lower to 163.47 cents/pound, and March feeders slumped 0.67 to 163.82.

Hog futures also lost ground in Friday trading. Talk of declining cash and wholesale prices apparently depressed CME hog values to end the week. The losses might have garnered less attention in other circumstances, but this is the time of year when the hog and pork complex often proves very weak. December hog futures dove 0.82 cents to 88.35 cents/pound late Friday morning, while April descended 0.50 cents to 92.87 cents/pound.

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