Position-squaring complicated ag market trading before weekend

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Short covering seemingly boosted corn futures before the weekend. Soy complex strength apparently supported the corn market around midweek, but the yellow grain stood on its own Friday. There was little bullish news, so it seemed rather clear that widespread short-covering had boosted prices before the long Memorial Day weekend. July corn ended the week 1.25 cents higher at $4.78/bushel Friday, while December gained 1.75 cents to $4.7525.

Weather and position-squaring may have depressed crop soy futures. The old crop soy situation remains tight, but bulls seemed to be taking profits ahead of the long holiday weekend Friday. In addition, talk of very favorable soy planting weather in the Midwest probably weighed on the new crop contracts. July soybeans slid 3.25 cents to $15.155/bushel in late Friday action, while July soyoil tumbled 0.48 cents to 40.38 cents/pound, but July soymeal inched up $1.1 to $502.6/ton.

Weather and export news apparently sent the wheat markets lower. The droughty southern Plains were blessed with much needed rainfall before the weekend, which could significantly boost winter wheat harvest prospects. The resulting futures weakness was seemingly exaggerated by the recent lack of export demand for U.S. grain, since foreign supplies are much more plentiful than domestic holdings. July CBOT wheat futures stumbled 6.75 cents to $6.525/bushel shortly at their Friday close, while July KCBT wheat fell 6.75 cents to $7.44, and July MWE futures sank 5.5 cents to $7.255.

Cattle traders expect continued cash losses. Despite recent wholesale strength, CME cattle traders are clearly looking for recent cash losses to persist through late spring. Seasonally increasing cattle supplies traditionally depress prices. June cattle dropped 1.30 cents to 136.30 cents/pound as pit trading ended Friday, while December slumped 1.20 cents to 144.25. Meanwhile, August feeder cattle crashed 2.52 cents to 192.85 cents/pound, and October plummeted 2.40 cents to 194.10.

Cash and wholesale losses continued undercutting hog futures. After rallying strongly in response to good news Wednesday, CME lean hog futures ended the week badly. Sustained weakness in cash and wholesale values almost surely played a big role in the drop, since the summer contracts are still trading at substantial premiums to spot quotes. June hog futures dove 0.75 cents to 116.85 cents/pound at Friday’s CME settlement, while December crept up 0.07 to 95.12.

Texas rainfall exacerbated technical cotton sales to end the week. Cotton futures initially spiked in response to Thursday’s bullish Export Sales report, but the subsequent technical failure and breakdown likely spurred widespread pragmatic selling. The fact that this weekend’s rains could spur Texas production likely exaggerated the ICE drop. July cotton plunged 1.47 cents to 86.31 cents/pound Friday afternoon, while December cotton fell 1.26 to 79.47.

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