Corn futures are expected to open mixed on Thursday. Nearby corn contracts traded a little higher overnight while the deferreds were down. The market is getting a little pressure from outside markets with the Dow Jones futures trading lower and the dollar strengthening. Just last week corn prices were rising due to rumors that China was buying corn. Now there are rumors that China is canceling some of their purchases and that is pressuring prices. However, there is no confirmation of this latest rumor. Export shipments need to total about 35 million bushels in today’s Export Sales report for corn to stay on track to reach the current crop year forecast of 1.7 billion bushels.
Soybean futures prices are forecast to open steady to a nickel lower. Soybean charts took a beating due to the drop in prices on Wednesday. That could spell trouble for a market where non-commercials are extremely net long. If these traders believe the market is turning down they could decide to take profits resulting in a significant sell-off. However, the data in the weekly Export Sales report is expected to be supportive, exceeding the 12.4 million bushels needed to stay on pace to reach the crop year forecast total.
Wheat futures are called 2 to 5 cents higher. Overnight trade was 4 3/4 to 5 1/2 cents higher at the CBOT, 1 1/2 to 2 3/4 cents higher at the KCBT and 1 to 2 cents higher at the MGE. Expectations of a bumper wheat crop and further strength in the dollar are putting downward pressure on prices. Reports from the winter wheat crop tour (day 2) estimated wheat to be at least two and as much as four weeks ahead of normal, with harvest expected to be earlier by the same degree.
Cattle futures prices are expected to open lower on Thursday. Pressures from outside markets and grains markets are expected to weaken cattle futures. Beef cutout values remain steady. Boxed beef cutout prices were up 71 cents for choice at $191.18, and select prices were down 3 cents to $186.43. The CME’s decision to double the initial margin requirement as of May 7 could trigger some long-liquidation, pressuring cattle prices.
Hog futures are expected to open 20 to 50 cents higher Thursday. Hog futures traded a little higher overnight after posting big declines on Wednesday. Traders may look at the 69 cent gains in the pork cutout on Wednesday as a sign that the demand side of the equation is improving, but the previous gains in the cutout have been fleeting. Cash hog prices were down again on Wednesday and even lower bids are expected for Thursday. The expected uptick in prices at the open on Thursday is due in part short-covering and technical buying because the market is oversold.
Cotton prices are expected to open slightly lower on Thursday. The cotton market has been pretty tame the last couple of days with only modest changes from day-to-day. Some key growing areas in Mississippi and southern Louisiana received some decent rainfall overnight, but there was no relief for the very dry places in Georgia and other areas along the East Coast. The International Cotton Advisory Committee forecast a 7 percent decline in world cotton production in 2012/13, with production in China down 13 percent. However, world production is expected to exceed world consumption again, with global ending stocks increasing further.