Ag markets proved quite volatile Monday

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Corn futures rallied in response to the late-morning USDA reports. The USDA published its quarterly Grain Stocks and annual Prospective plantings reports at 11:00 CDT today, which sparked a bullish move in corn futures. The data showed March 1 corn stocks and projected 2014 plantings modestly below forecasts, thereby prompting across-the-board gains. May corn jumped 10.0 cents to $5.02/bushel at Monday’s settlement, while December climbed 11.0 to $4.9825.

The soy complex diverged on the news. Soybean and meal futures were little changed ahead of today’s reports, while the oil market had fallen sharply. The USDA numbers subsequently exaggerated the early moves. Nearby beans and meal posted big gains, while deferred futures declined in response to the large plantings forecast. May soybeans soared 27.5 cents to $14.645/bushel as Monday’s pit session ended, while May soyoil fell 0.06 cents to 40.42 cents/pound, and May soymeal climbed $10.9 to $479.3/ton.

The wheat markets reacted wildly to the USDA data. Improved short-term weather prospects seemed to weigh upon wheat futures in early-week trading. That changed after the USDA numbers were published, despite the fact that current grain stocks topped expectations. The wheat acreage figures were supportive of deferred futures. Most contracts closed slightly higher. May CBOT wheat futures settled up 1.75 cents at $6.9725/bushel Monday afternoon, while May KCBT wheat futures edged up 0.5 cent to $7.64 and May MWE futures added 3.0 cents to $7.4275.

Wholesale weakness depressed cattle futures Monday. Concerns about the wholesale outlook seemed to weigh upon CME cattle prices late last week. Those worries were apparently justified when beef cutout values plummeted Friday afternoon, which in turn depressed futures farther this morning. Cutouts did firm somewhat at midday, but futures remained weak. April cattle futures closed 0.65 cents lower to 145.85 cents/pound Monday, while August tumbled 0.52 cents to 134.55. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle dove 1.32 cents to 177.02 cents/pound, but August plunged 1.62 to 179.40.

Hog traders are apparently counting on short term strength. Last Friday’s quarterly USDA Hogs & Pigs report proved bearish for the summer price outlook, which sent most contracts sharply lower upon today’s opening. However, the data were neutral for short-term prospects, so suspicions of early-week cash firmness sparked a quick bounce in the nearby April future. April hog futures climbed 0.42 cents to 126.00 in late Monday action, while June plummeted 2.40 to 127.17.

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