Traders are anticipating today's big USDA reports

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Corn futures declined modestly Sunday night. The quarterly USDA Grain Stocks and Prospective Plantings reports are set for release at 11:00 AM CDT this morning. Thus, given recent strength, it wasn’t terribly surprising to see yellow grain prices decline slightly as long liquidation hit the pit Sunday night. The market seems likely to range trade until the reports are released. May corn dipped 2.75 cents to $4.8925/bushel early Monday morning, while December slipped 1.5 to $4.8575.

The soy complex is mixed to higher to start the week. Position squaring also seemed to dominate in Sunday night soy action, with oil rising despite Asian palm weakness and most meal contracts suffering declines. As in the grain pits, traders are very likely squaring positions ahead of the late morning USDA reports. May soybeans rose 2.75 cents to $14.3925/bushel in predawn Monday trading, while May soyoil gained 0.12 cents to 40.60 cents/pound, and May soymeal edged up $0.8 to $469.2//ton.

Improved weather prospects may again be weighing on wheat futures. The wheat markets fell sharply in apparent response to improved weather forecasts last Friday, with moderate Sunday-night declines seemingly representing a follow-through to those losses. Still, position squaring seems likely to be the factor dominating price action until the late-morning reports are published. May CBOT wheat futures slumped 6.0 cents to $6.895/bushel in early Monday trading, while May KCBT wheat futures slid 4.75 cents to $7.5875 and May MWE futures tumbled 4.75 cents to $7.35.

Big beef losses limited CME cattle strength last Friday. Cattle futures were clearly supported by last week’s cash market push to record highs. However, beef cutout values fell sharply Thursday and again Friday, which almost surely capped rally attempts as the week ended. Futures rebounded from early lows, but ended mostly lower on the day. April cattle futures bounced 0.02 cents to 146.50 cents/pound to end the week, while August slumped 0.35 cents to 135.07. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle fell 1.15 cents to 178.35 cents/pound, but August lost just 0.12 to 181.02.

Hog traders were likely squaring positions ahead of Friday’s USDA report. After suffering a big early-week setback, hog futures rebounded strongly Wednesday, Thursday and again Thursday night. Renewed cash market gains likely powered the rise, although pork quotes showed signs of weakness. That news, along with concerns about the afternoon release of the quarterly Hogs & Pigs report apparently spurred widespread position squaring. April hog futures ended Friday having gained 0.10 cents to 125.57, while June had climbed 0.27 to 129.57. The report looked bearish, so we look for a sharply lower opening today, especially in the summer contracts.

Traders are probably squaring cotton positions as well. The cotton market finished last week strongly, which seemingly reflected ongoing equity market gains. The resulting optimism about apparel demand seems to be supporting prices again this morning. However, today’s USDA reports could also affect cotton futures substantially. May cotton rallied 0.62 cents to 94.36 cents/pound just after sunrise (EDT) Monday, while December cotton rose 0.04 to 79.97.

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