Most ag markets sank in response to USDA data on Thursday

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The March 28 USDA Prospective Plantings report stated 2013 corn plantings at 97.282 million acres, which represented a 0.1% annual increase. Pre-report estimates averaged 97.33 million, within a range extending from 95.7 to 98.5 million acres. The quarterly Grain Stocks report stated March 1 U.S. corn stocks at 5.399 billion bushels, which easily topped the average forecast at 5.013 billion (range 4.885-5.248). The stocks report caused traders to forget the acreage data. May corn plunged its 40.0-cent daily limit to $6.9525/bushel in response, while December dropped 42.5 cents to $5.385.

The Prospective Plantings report stated 2013 U.S. soybean plantings at 77.126 million acres, which represented a 0.1% annual decline. Pre-report estimates averaged 78.39 million, within a range extending from 77.0 to 79.70 million acres, so this result seemed bullish. However, the quarterly Grain Stocks report stated March 1 U.S. soybean stocks at 0.999 billion bushels, which greatly exceeded the average forecast at 0.935 billion (range 0.905-0.984). This bearish news superseded the acreage result. May soybeans had dived 49.0 cents to $14.0475/bushel by the end of the day, while May soyoil plunged 0.71 cents to 50.11 cents/pound, while May meal crashed $18.6 to $404.6/ton.

The USDA stated total U.S. wheat acreage at 56.44 million acres, which virtually matched average expectations at 56.414 million. Winter wheat acres came in at 41.988 million [forecast average at 41.79 million; range 41.20-43.00], so that figure seemed bearish for nearby wheat futures. Spring wheat acreage other than durum was stated at 12.701 million acres [forecast average at 12.45 million; range 11.91-13.80], which seemed bearish for deferred futures as well. Wheat stocks at 1.234 also topped forecasts, thereby seeming quite bearish as well. May CBOT wheat futures plummeted 45.75 cents to $6.8775/bushel at their Thursday close, while May KCBT wheat sank 47.25 cents to $7.2675, and May MGE futures lost 32.75 cents to $7.8025.

Cattle futures surged after wire services reported that cash cattle prices had risen strongly Thursday. Not only is this seen as good news for late March, it seems bullish for April price prospects as well, especially if grocers accelerate their beef purchases after Easter. April cattle jumped 1.55 cents to 128.90 cents/pound in late Thursday-morning trading, while August surged 1.17 cents to 125.20. Meanwhile, April through January feeder cattle futures spiked their daily 3.0-cent limit. April ended the day at 143.40, while August settled at 152.25.

CME lean hog futures rose modestly Thursday. Bulls likely added positions in response to strength spilling over from the cattle pit and from fresh talk of rising cash values. However, traders were clearly unwilling to become very aggressive in the market before the 2:00 PM CDT release of the quarterly USDA Hogs & Pigs report. That seemed bearish for the spring and summer contracts upon the opening next Monday. April hogs rose 0.52 cents to 80.60 cents/pound around midsession Wednesday, while June gained 0.40 cents to 91.07.

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