Corn futures finished higher Monday. USDA reported the sale of 4.7 million bushels to an unknown destination for delivery in the 2012/13 crop year. This is widely suspected to be a sale to China although it’s well short of the levels rumored last week which ranged to as high as 50 to 75 million bushels. Planting progress as of Sunday is expected to be close to 30% in USDA’s update this afternoon. May corn settled 10 cents higher at $6.22 ½ and December was 8 ¾ cents higher at $5.45 ½.
Soybean futures settled lower on Monday. Soybean prices jumped higher on Friday on a rumor that Brazil might soon slow or halt soybean sales. The Brazilian agricultural ministry refuted the rumor. There were also concerns that Spain and other members of the European Union might retaliate against Argentina for its takeover of the Argentine subsidiary of the major Spanish oil company. If that step were taken, it could swing more demand to the U.S. But on Monday, Spain appeared to be backing away from that plan. May futures closed 9 1/2 cents lower at $14.37 1/4 while November lost 14 1/2 cents at $13.41 1/2.
Wheat futures closed higher Monday, particularly at the CBOT and KCBT. There was some frost in western Kansas last night and risk of another light frost tonight, well past the normal “last frost dates” of April 15th or so. There is also risk of light frost in some soft red winter wheat areas in Missouri and east of the Mississippi. Our weather consultant sees little risk of any significant permanent damage, but with wheat at advanced growth stage, it is more vulnerable than normal. Reports of Chinese purchases of U.S. wheat running six times higher than a year ago were also supportive. CBOT May closed 9 ¼ cents higher at $6.25; KCBT May was 9 ¼ cents higher at $7.91 ¾; MGE wheat was ¾ of a cent higher at $7.91 ¾.
Cattle futures ended mostly lower Monday. The cattle market was lower as prices responded negatively to USDA’s Cattle on Feed and the Cold Storage reports. Cattle on feed came in close to expectations at up 2%, but beef stocks as of March 31 were 14% higher than a year ago. In addition, sharply lower equity markets and dollar strength added to the selling pressure. However, prices closed well off the early lows as prices rebounded near the close. June cattle futures settled 87 cents lower at $114.57. August was 25 cents lower at $118.60.
Lean hog futures closed higher on Monday. After two months of pretty steady declines in hog futures, traders are looking for signs that prices are bottoming out. The modest uptick in the cutout value on Friday seemed to be enough to encourage some modest buying, but more improvement in cash market fundamentals will be needed to trigger and significant increase in hog futures. The May contract gained 53 cents and closed at $88.03 and the June contract was 40 cents higher at $87.80.