USDA data sent the crop markets scrambling

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Corn futures rallied in response to the late-morning USDA reports. The USDA published its quarterly Grain Stocks and annual Prospective plantings reports at 11:00 CDT today, which sparked a bullish move in corn futures. The data showed March 1 corn stocks and projected 2014 plantings modestly below forecasts. May corn surged 6.5 cents to $4.985/bushel soon thereafter, while December climbed 7.5 to $4.9475.

The soy complex diverged on the news. Soybean and meal futures were little changed ahead of today’s reports, while the oil market had fallen sharply. The USDA numbers subsequently caused a moderate rise in nearby futures, while deferred futures declined in response to the large plantings forecast. May soybeans gained 14.0 cents to $14.505/bushel in late Monday morning trading, while May soyoil fell 0.17 cents to 40.31 cents/pound, and May soymeal added $5.6 to $474.0/ton.

The wheat markets reacted wildly to the USDA data. Improved short-term weather prospects seemed to weigh upon wheat futures in early-week trading. That didn’t change much after the USDA numbers were published, since those current grain stocks topped expectations. The wheat acreage figures were supportive of deferred futures. May CBOT wheat futures declined 1.5 cents to $6.94/bushel just before lunchtime Monday, while May KCBT wheat futures steadied at $7.635 and May MWE futures slipped 2.25 cents to $7.375.

Wholesale weakness depressed cattle futures Monday morning. Concerns about the wholesale outlook seemed to weigh upon CME cattle prices late last week. Those worries were apparently justified when beef cutout values plummeted Friday afternoon, which in turn depressed futures farther this morning. April cattle futures sank 0.85 cents to 145.65 cents/pound around midsession Monday, while August tumbled 0.85 cents to 134.22. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle dove 1.30 cents to 177.05 cents/pound, but August plunged 1.55 to 179.47.

Hog traders are apparently counting on short term strength. Last Friday’s quarterly USDA Hogs & Pigs report proved bearish for the summer price outlook, which sent most contracts sharply lower upon today’s opening. However, the data were neutral for short-term prospects, so suspicions of early-week cash firmness sparked a quick bounce in the nearby April future. April hog futures climbed 0.72 cents to 125.30 by late Monday morning, while June fell 1.90 to 127.67.

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