Weather concerns and cash tightness boosted crop markets Monday

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Weather forecasts last week implied a significant window for planting corn in early May. However, the latest reports were not as encouraging, thereby sparking a major surge in corn futures Monday. The weekly USDA Export Inspections report seemed neutral, since the latest result, at 11.576 million bushels (mib), essentially matched industry expectations. May corn spiked 40.0 cents to $6.84/bushel by its Monday close, while December leapt 35.5 cent to $5.595.

Persistently tight spot markets and the strong basis apparently boosted nearby soybean futures Monday. The fact that the weekly Export Inspections total, at 8.935 million bushels, slightly exceeded expectations (in the 4.0-8.0 mib range) probably sparked some additional buying. Ideas that acreage could shift to beans from corn limited deferred gains, whereas Asian vegetable oil prices slipping over the weekend likely undercut the soyoil market. May soybeans jumped 41.0 cents to $14.7175/bushel as the Monday CBOT session wound down, while May soyoil fell 0.22 cents to 49.46 cents/pound; May soybean meal added $13.5 to $431.4/ton.

Talk that spring wheat plantings could also be substantially delayed, as well as concerns about the viability of the winter wheat crop in light of recent frosts (and forecasts for more of the same later this week) boosted wheat futures Monday. The Export Inspections report seemed bullish, since the latest result, at 30.857 mib easily topped forecasts. Strength spilling over from the corn and bean pits likely boosted prices as well. May CBOT wheat futures settled 20.75 cents higher, at $7.0975/bushel, Monday afternoon, while May KCBT wheat climbed 25.25 cents to $7.8075 and May MGE futures advanced 20.25 cents to $8.3175.

Cattle futures ended Monday narrowly mixed, which almost surely disappointed bullish traders. They anticipate continued cash market strength through early May, especially if the wholesale market leads the way higher. Thus, the fact that futures could not build upon early gains despite the strong midday beef report suggests underlying weakness. Feeder future fell in response to the prospect of increased feed costs implied by the grain/soy rally. June cattle closed 0.05 cents lower, at 122.55 cents/pound Monday, while December rose 0.07 cents to 128.07. May feeder cattle futures dove 1.37 cents to 140.42 cents/pound, and August tumbled 1.30 cents to 149.87.

Although hog traders began the week looking for seasonal gains in hog and pork values over the short run, CME futures turned downward Monday. Having the preliminary quote for the Friday CME lean hog index come in 1.00-cent higher, at 82.42 cents/pound, seemed quite supportive, as did the mid-session jump in pork values. Bullish traders may simply have been looking for a larger increase. The early setback from chart resistance in the 93.00-cent area may also have triggered technical selling. May hog futures edged 0.05 cents lower to 89.30 cents/pound at its Monday settlement, and the June contract fell 0.37 cents to 92.15.

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