Grain markets in consolidation mode

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Corn futures are steady to fractionally lower this morning. Futures are consolidating after the recent sharp decline. Fund selling pressure has eased, but could return with funds still heavily net long corn futures. Price charts still have a negative bias. Even so, cash movement is slow, and even with harvest recently completed, market channels are not overflowing with corn. U.S. corn exports are expected to improve as competitor supplies are exhausted.

Soybean prices are trading 3 to 7 cents lower this morning. Futures were higher early in the overnight session, but have turned lower again. On Wednesday the focus shifted from supply to the demand side with U.S. October soybean crush coming in above expectations along with export sales to China. However, weather in South America continues favorable with needed drying underway in Argentina and beneficial showers in north central and northwestern growing areas of Brazil.

Wheat prices are 2-5 cents higher in early trade. Uncertainty over Ukraine’s ability to export wheat continues. It appears likely that Ukraine will ultimately halt wheat exports. Expectations have been around December 1, but it could be sooner. The poor start for the U.S. winter wheat crop is a supportive factor, particularly for new-crop KC.

Live cattle futures are mixed this morning. Expectations are for cash to trade steady to lower this week. Cash bids have yet to emerge with offers said to be from $127-$128, up from cash trade last week at $125-$126. Poor margins and a reduced slaughter schedule next week suggest subdued buying interest from processors. The monthly Cattle on Feed report is expected to show a sharp decline in placements during October with cattle on feed down 4%-6% from a year ago.

Lean hog futures are 20-35 points lower in early trading on Thursday. On Wednesday the pork cutout was down 2.55 to 81.57. Also, Iowa/Minnesota hogs were down 1.57 to 75.88 on a carcass basis. Concern about pork demand is weighing on the market. Even so, the longer-term uptrend in hog prices remains intact and pork demand is expected to improve after Thanksgiving.

Cotton futures are trading higher. Short covering remains a steady feature after cotton futures failed to decline Friday after what most considered “bearish” revisions in USDA’s supply/demand balance for cotton, both U.S. and globally. The “driver” for this short-covering is ongoing speculation that China has been booking U.S. cotton, despite that country’s stockpiles estimated at enough to meet their production/consumption gap six years out! If Friday’s export sales report does not confirm these rumors, expect another sell-off.

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