Corn futures closed higher on Wednesday. Old-crop futures led the gains on strength in the cash market and concern about the slow pace of planting. USDA pegged progress below trade expectations at 86% complete compared to the five-year average of 95%. However, new-crop gains were limited by ideas that progress will be made in the eastern Corn Belt this week due to warmer and drier weather. Crop condition ratings were 63% good to excellent versus 74% at this time last year. July ended 11 cents higher at $7.58 1/2 and December was 6 1/2 cents higher at $6.79 1/2.
Soybean futures traded solidly higher on Wednesday. Spillover strength in corn and slow planting progress helped support soybean prices. Planting progress remains well below normal, although forecasts call for improved planting conditions in the Midwest over the next week. USDA estimated the crop at 51% planted versus the five-year average of 71% and emergence at 27% compared to the average of 39%. July ended 10 1/4 cents higher at $13.86 1/4 and November was 11 1/4 cents higher at $13.74 3/4.
Wheat futures were strongly lower on Wednesday. The market was pressured again by the news that Russia will lift the ban on grain exports as of July 1. Some analysts are estimating that Russia could export up to 10 million metric tons of wheat in 2011/12. Spring wheat was pulled lower as well despite slow planting progress. USDA reported the crop at only 68% planted compared to the five-year average of 95%. Spring wheat emergence at 40% is less than half of the normal 81% for this date. CBOT July was 23 cents lower at $7.59 1/4, KCBT July closed 16 1/2 cents lower at $8.91 1/2 and MGE July fell 19 1/2 cents lower to $10.05 1/2.
Cattle futures closed lower on Wednesday. A bearish jobs report and weakness in the stock market raised new demand concerns that pressured the cattle market. Packer margins are strong, but market ready supplies are also larger this week. Showlists this week are up about 4% compared to a week-ago. Cash trade was expected to be up $1-$2 this week, but light trade developed in Texas at $104, steady with the previous week. June closed is $1.60 lower at $102.15 and August was $1.45 lower at $103.93.
Lean hog futures traded lower on Wednesday. Weakness in the stock market, poor packer margins and spillover pressure from cattle weighed on futures. Pork prices have been easing and will need to improve to get packer margins out of the red unless cash prices continue to decline. Cash prices were mostly steady today as most packers have needs covered for the week. June ended 40 cents higher at $89.78 and July was 78 cents lower at $89.15.