Corn futures ended lower Friday. Prices were higher overnight and early on Friday amid continued rumors of Chinese buying and possible export demand tied to lower Argentine production and news that Japan will halt European corn imports. However, the market was disappointed that there wasn’t any official confirmation of sales to China from USDA. As a result, futures pulled back from the early highs and turned lower on the day. The trade will be monitoring the news closely on Monday for any further news regarding China. May corn settled 9 ½ cents lower at $6.11 ½. The December contract was 6 ¾ cents lower at $5.35.
Soybean futures settled sharply higher on Friday. The meal market led the charge higher. The July meal contract scored a technical breakout above the trading range to date in April. Further, Spain’s threat to retaliate against Argentina with higher import taxes because of its takeover of the Argentine subsidiary of the major Spanish oil company may swing more meal export demand to the U.S. Fundamental news this week has been bullish with Argentina cutting its production forecast and China buying more U.S. soybeans. May futures closed 31 cents higher at $14.46 3/4 while November gained 13 1/2 cents at $13.56.
Wheat futures closed solidly lower Friday. Despite Thursday’s rebound, futures lost ground for the week and the MGE contracts even took out last week’s lows for serious damage from a technical (chart) perspective. At midsession, when losses were more modest, we attributed the selling to classic Friday profit-taking by longs following a nice bounce on Thursday. But by the close, it was more than that. There was new selling as well. The fundamental situation for wheat remains negative, with few weather issues remaining now that Europe’s driest areas are getting rain, too. CBOT May closed 9 cents lower at $6.15 ¾; KCBT May was 11 ½ cents lower at $6.26; and MGE May was 18½ cents lower at $7.91.
Cattle futures finished mixed Friday. Cash prices were mostly steady to higher, improving as the week progressed. Beef prices continue their recovery with choice beef up about $11 per cwt this week. USDA reported cattle on feed as of April, up 2% from a year ago. Placements were down 6% and marketing were 4% lower. The estimates came only slightly higher than expectations and are viewed as neutral to a bit negative for prices. June cattle futures settled 40 cents lower at $115.45. August was 10 cents higher at $118.85.
Lean hog futures closed lower on Friday. Prices declined on Friday with further weakness in the cash market, lower corn prices, and growing concerns that China will import a lot less U.S. pork this year. Cash hog prices were down on Thursday and lower prices were reported again on Friday. Traders didn’t react to the uptick in the pork cutout on Thursday, having been fooled at least a couple of times already. The lightly-traded May contract ended the day down 98 cents at $87.50. June was $1.38 lower, falling to $87.40.