Ag markets mixed again Friday morning

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Strong gains by the S&P 500 index Friday morning seemed somewhat supportive of the commodity markets, but the corn rally had a more direct cause. That is, the latest weather forecasts imply substantial rainfall over large areas of the Corn Belt next week, thereby implying persistent delays to U.S. corn plantings. Those not only reduce the productive potential of the grain that gets planted, continued postponement of corn plantings also tend to cause acreage to shift from corn to soybeans. May corn climbed 5.75 cents to $6.5025/bushel around midsession Friday, while December gained 3.5 cents to $5.4475.

News of lock closures on the Mississippi River may have weighed upon soybean futures Friday morning, since that essentially reduces short-term export demand. The potential for spring plantings to shift from corn to soybeans may also have weighed upon new crop futures. In addition, the market may simply have been ready for a setback after climbing substantially during the past two weeks. May soybeans fell 2.5 cents to $14.28/bushel late Friday morning, while May soyoil dropped 0.46 cents to 49.20 cents/pound, and May soybean meal dipped $0.6 to $410.4/ton.

The prospect of delayed spring wheat plantings also seemed to support the wheat market Friday morning. The fact that the Minneapolis market easily outperformed Chicago, which in turn outstripped Kansas City, appeared to confirm such ideas, since Northern Plains delays could be extreme. Conversely, early reports suggest the overnight frost did little damage to Southern Plains winter wheat apparently weighed upon KC prices. May CBOT wheat futures rose 6.5 cents to $7.0925/bushel just before lunchtime Friday, while May KCBT wheat edged up 2.25 cents to $7.46 and May MGE futures surged 5.25 cents to $8.23.

Cattle futures traded firmly as the CME floor session got underway Friday morning, but reversed lower later in the morning in the wake of slipping cash prices. That is, traders seemed to be hoping for firm cash trading this week, but news that Nebraska cattle were trading 1.5-2.0 cents/pound under the consensus price for last week negated those hopes. June cattle dipped 0.50 cents to 120.87 cents/pound in late Friday morning action, while December slid 0.72 cents to 126.25. May feeder cattle futures fell 1.10 cents to 138.95 cents/pound, and August sank 1.32 cents to 145.85.

Late morning news of cash cattle weakness seemed to undercut CME lean hog futures as well. Friday morning cash and wholesale news was somewhat mixed, so hog traders probably had little reason to expect a quick reversal of the recent slide in the CME lean hog index (which futures cash-settle against). Until the cash equivalent price turns upward, bulls will have little reason to buy nearby futures at current premiums. May hog futures slipped 0.40 cents to 87.55 cents/pound around midday Friday, while the June contract lost 0.70 cents to 89.90.

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