Ag markets posted decidedly mixed moves to end the week

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After surging on Thursday, the equity and commodity markets were under general pressure Friday. Corn futures were no exception. In addition to broad weakness undercutting prices, traders cited prospects for a good planting window in early May, which will almost surely see a torrid pace of seedings. That might get the bulk of the 2013 U.S. corn crop off to a good start after recent rains. May corn slipped 1.25 cents to $6.44/bushel at its Friday close, while December fell 7.25 cent to $5.24.

Tight spot markets and strong basis levels continued supporting soybean futures in the face of the general market decline Friday morning. The potential for a shift from corn to soybean plantings in some areas if the planting window expected next week is not repeated at times during May probably limited gains in deferred futures. Position squaring before the weekend may also have factored into market action. May soybeans climbed 8.25 cents to $14.3075/bushel to end the week, while May soyoil dipped 0.11 cents to 49.66 cents/pound; May soybean meal added $3.6 to $417.9/ton.

After proving very strong Thursday, the wheat market suffered a relapse of recent weakness Friday. The negative tone to the various equity and commodity markets probably weighed upon prices, as did some profit-taking/position-squaring before the weekend. Having the Wheat Quality Council tour set to start Monday probably encouraged many to exit positions before those results start filtering into the market at that time. May CBOT wheat futures dropped 12.5 cents to $6.8875/bushel at its Friday afternoon settlement, while May KCBT wheat lost 8.75 cents to $7.565 and May MGE futures dove 11.75 cents to $8.1175.

Cattle futures were narrowly mixed late Friday morning as traders awaited the outcome of cash trading for this week. Those bullish expectations were confirmed around noon, when wire service reports cattle had changed hands 1-2 cents/pound higher (at 128-130 cents/pound in Nebraska) than last week. The afternoon decline suggests bulls were hoping for a larger increase. June cattle closed 0.30 cents lower at 122.60 cents/pound Friday afternoon, while December skidded 0.22 cents to 128.00. May feeder cattle futures fell 0.40 cents to 141.80 cents/pound, and August tumbled 0.98 cents to 151.17.

The hog market sustained its recent advance Friday despite the generally bearish market environment and mixed cash and wholesale news. Country prices east and west of the Mississippi River diverged significantly, while pork cutout dipped from its Thursday afternoon quote. Still, bullish traders have good reason to anticipate a major seasonal surge in cash hog and pork values during the coming weeks. May hog futures climbed 0.37 cents to 89.35 cents/pound at its week-ending settlement, while the June contract surged 0.70 cents to 92.52.

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