Markets anticipating major USDA reports this week

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Corn futures continued their Friday decline early Monday morning. Traders have almost surely turned their attention to the potential results of the USDA Prospective Plantings report to be released Thursday (3/28), especially after several firms released their forecasts for the report last Friday. Weekend snowfall over the Midwest probably weighed upon prices as well. May corn slipped 2.0 cents to $7.2425/bushel in early Monday trading, while December dipped 1.25 cents to $5.64.

Soybean futures also fell Friday and proved even weaker than corn in early Monday price action. The fact that several forecasters published record acreage predictions for the coming U.S. crop year is almost surely weighing upon the market, but talk of improving logistical conditions in South America, particularly news that Brazil had avoided a threatened port workers strike, is likely weighing upon the market as well. May soybeans dropped 7.25 cents to $14.3325/bushel overnight Sunday and Monday morning, while May soyoil skidded 0.17 cent to 50.26 cents/pound, and May meal slid $2.5 to $416.8/ton.

Wheat futures declined slightly to start this week. Forecasts for spring wheat plantings on the Thursday morning USDA Prospective Plantings have been rather divergent, which may explain the lack of price movement over the weekend. Still, the weekend snowfall seems likely to improve harvest prospects for the growing winter wheat crop, which might explains the slippage seen early this morning. May CBOT wheat edged 1.0 cent lower to 7.2875/bushel early Monday morning, while May KCBT wheat was unchanged at $7.615, and May MGE futures lost 1.25 cents to $8.0525.

Cattle futures declined Friday ahead of the monthly USDA Cattle on Feed report, due largely to persistent cash and wholesale weakness last week. However, futures could rise sharply today after the COF report stated February feedlot placements at their lowest level since the USDA started the current data series in 1996. April cattle edged 0.22 cents lower to 126.20 cents/pound at its Friday settlement, while August lost 0.67 cents to 122.85. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle futures dipped 0.25 cents to 138.05 cents/pound, and August skidded 0.15 cents to 147.95.

CME lean hog futures proved relatively weak again Friday. That probably reflected the ongoing decline in the CME lean hog index, which is expected to come in at 0.57 cents lower, at 75.30 cents/pound later this morning. Bulls keep thinking the market will turn seasonally higher in the near future, but that obviously has not happened yet. Modest increases in pork stockpiles on the monthly Cold Storage report may boost prices this morning. April hogs slipped 0.30 cents to 78.05 cents/pound at the Friday close, while June gained 0.15 cents to 89.72.

Agricultural industry forecasters also posted relatively large predictions for spring U.S. cotton plantings late last week, which very likely weighed upon futures Friday and again this morning. Having the new crop contracts lead the way lower supports that supposition. Ultimately, the recent price spike has probably encouraged U.S. farmers to curtail their cotton plantings much less than previously anticipated. May cotton slipped 0.26 cents to 87.03 cents/pound Sunday night and Monday morning, while December dipped 0.35 cents to 86.20.

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