Corn futures continue to slide on Thursday

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Corn futures continued their Wednesday night slide through much of Thursday morning. The persistent weakness was quite surprising when viewed within the context of the weekly USDA Export Sales report. It stated both 2012/13 and 2013/14 sales totals above forecast ranges, which in many circumstances might give the yellow grain market a significant boost. Having the soybean market dip to 10 month lows may have discouraged bulls. May corn fell 6.75 cents to $6.3475/bushel late Thursday morning, while December dipped 2.0 cents to $5.375.

The weekly USDA Export Sales report also seemed quite supportive of soybean futures, but soybean futures had declined rather substantially by late morning. New crop sales were stated toward the upper end of pre-report forecasts, but the old crop result at 392,700 tonnes easily topped the forecast range (between 0 and 200,000). The improving South American situation is probably a bearish factor, but we would also point out that forecasts for persistently wet, cold weather over the Corn Belt may already be shifting planted acreage from corn to soybeans this spring. May soybeans dropped 11.25 cents to $13.69/bushel around mid-session Thursday, while May soyoil dove 0.66 cents to 48.49 cents/pound, and May meal lost $2.6 to $395.4/ton.

Wheat futures were quite mixed Thursday morning, with the Chicago and Minneapolis markets easily outperforming those in Kansas City. Talk of domestic weather and crop conditions seemingly made traders forget the export report. That is, improvements in production prospects apparently depressed winter wheat prices (KC) and deferred prices at the other two exchanges. Only nearby old crop spring wheat futures had risen as lunchtime loomed. May CBOT wheat futures edged upward 1.25 cent to $6.9525/bushel in late Thursday morning trading, while May KCBT wheat sank 9.0 cents to $7.2625 and May MGE futures slid 1.0 cent to $7.905.

Belated news that country cattle had traded Wednesday at levels quite comparable with those seen last week seemingly weighed upon CME cattle futures Thursday morning. Fed cattle reportedly traded at 128.00 cents/pound in the Panhandle and Kansas regions yesterday, thereby matching higher quotes from last week. Most traders were probably expecting a weekly rise, as well as sustained wholesale strength this morning. Beef cutout values were only slightly changed from Wednesday. June cattle slumped 0.42 cents to 122.77 cents/pound just before lunchtime Thursday, while December tumbled 0.45 cents to 129.10. May feeder cattle futures lost 0.17 cents to 146.40 cents/pound, and August declined 0.20 cents to 153.30.

Hog futures were mixed again Thursday morning. News that the CME lean hog index, which futures cash-settle against, jumped 1.05 cents Tuesday and is likely to be quoted another 1.02 cents highs when the official Wednesday quote is released tomorrow, very likely boosted the expiring April contract. Weakness spilling over from the cattle pit seemed to depress deferred futures, but an eight-cent jump in fresh pork belly prices on the late-morning wholesale report could offer considerable support over the short term. The lightly traded May contract dropped 0.52 cents to 89.62 cents/pound in late Thursday morning trading, while June slipped 0.05 cents to 92.42.

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