Crop traders are looking forward to USDA Export Sales report

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Corn futures again followed wheat higher Wednesday night. The corn market lacked for news overnight, which may partially explain its close association with gains in the wheat market. Traders may also be unwilling to become very venturous ahead of the looming release of the weekly USDA Export Sales report. May corn gained 3.0 cents to $4.915/bushel early Thursday morning, while December added 2.5 to $4.8875.

The soy complex firmed in the wake of recent losses. Talk that Chinese interests will soon cancel previous orders of both U.S. and Brazilian beans sent CBOT futures tumbling Wednesday. However, the most-active May contract bounced significantly from midsession lows and closed just above its 20-day moving average. That seemingly stopped the bleeding. Soybean and meal futures inched upward overnight, but Asian palm weakness weighed on oil values. May soybeans inched up 0.25 cent to $13.8725/bushel Wednesday night, while May soyoil skidded 0.10 cents to 43.32 cents/pound, and May soymeal edged up $0.2 at $436.7/ton.

The wheat markets continued its rally overnight. Talk of dryness in the U.S. Plains is obviously supporting wheat futures at this juncture, but traders also worry about the availability of shipments out of the Black Sea region. In addition, concerns about spring wheat plantings in Crimea due to a fuel shortage are reportedly encouraging bulls. May CBOT wheat futures climbed 6.5 cents to $6.9025/bushel in pre-dawn Thursday action, while May KCBT wheat futures advanced 7.25 cents to $7.55 and May MWE futures rose 8.5 to $7.3925.

Wholesale news weighed on cattle futures last night. Spiking wholesale prices have supported cattle futures lately, with Wednesday’s CME advance seemingly anticipating cash gains today or tomorrow. However, cutout values appeared to lose their upward momentum yesterday, with select cuts posting a sizeable setback. That probably explains the overnight slippage in Chicago prices. April cattle futures slipped 0.10 cents at 143.77 cents/pound in early Thursday trading, while August sagged 0.17 cents to 134.45. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle stabilized at 175.87 cents/pound, and August slumped 0.07 to 178.10.

Big cash and wholesale gains are supporting the hog market. The huge CME hog rally lost its upward momentum Wednesday, with the nearby April contract suffering a significant loss. However, afternoon reports indicated strong gains at both the cash and wholesale levels yesterday, which almost surely prompted the overnight rebound. April hogs rebounded 0.47 cents to 116.40 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while June rose 0.22 to 125.55.

Cotton futures rose despite weak Chinese import news. Chinese officials indicated Wednesday night that their cotton imports had suffered a 35% annual decline during February, which rather obviously wasn’t encouraging. However, the fact that the February result was quite similar to the January shift seemingly limited the market reaction. Instead, the overnight combination of equity index strength and U.S. dollar weakness appeared to boost fiber prices somewhat. May cotton inched up 0.27 cents to 92.47 cents/pound just after sunrise (EDT) Thursday, while December cotton slid 0.17 to 79.71.

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