Corn futures were neutral-higher early Wednesday on short-covering and a weaker dollar. Weekly ethanol production was down 7,000 barrels to 975,000 barrels a day, down 0.7% from last week but up 0.5 cents from a year ago. Ethanol stocks continue to rise and are now 11% higher than a year ago. Weekly corn export sales , due out at 7:30 a.m. CST, are expected to be 500,000-700,000 tonnes. The Fed Chair hinted at a December rate increase, buoying the stock market with the DJIA up 247 points and taking steam out of the dollar. Funds were net even buyers/sellers of corn contracts Thursday. December corn futures were up 1 cent to $3.61275 on Wednesday, while March gained 0.5 cents to $3.6875.
Soybeans futures moved lower early Thursday ahead of the export sales report, despite a lower dollar. Whether Marci or Scioli is elected in this Sunday’s presidential election in Argentina, the trade expects that export taxes will reduced by some measure. This will result in their farmers selling a portion of their 725 million bushel of soybeans to the world market, undercutting U.S. bean exports. Brazil’s soybean plantings are 56% complete compared to the 68% average. Weekly soybean export sales for soybeans are 700,000-1,100,000 tonnes. Futures tested contract lows Wednesday on the recent scarcity of private export sales announcements by the USDA, leaving the trade to doubt the 21 million tonne Q4 pace will be met. January soybeans closed down 2.5 cents to $8.5525 per bushel, while December was unchanged at 27.44 cents per pound and December meal was down $0.40 at $285.20.
Wheat futures were a little higher early Thursday morning on follow-through short-covering after reaching near one-month lows Wednesday. Weekly wheat export sales are expected to be at 200,000-400,000 tonnes in this morning’s data release. Russia plans to increase their grain exports to 35-40 million tonnes by 2020, according to their Prime Minister. French consultancy, Strategie Grains, now pegs 2015/16 EU wheat exports at 26.8 million tonnes, higher than last month’s forecast by 300,000 tonnes, but will well below the 32.5 million tonnes exported last season. December CBOT wheat futures gained 1.75 cents to $4.85 /bushel early morning Thursday, while Dec KC wheat climbed 1.75 cents to $4.605, and December MWE advanced 3 cents to $5.03.
Live cattle were higher Wednesday on technical buying, up for the second straight day. The trade expects October placements in the Cattle on Feed report due out Friday to be the second smallest since 1996 when the data collection started. October placements are expected to be 5.9% smaller than last year at 2.228 million head. Friday are Boxed beef cutouts were mixed with choice down 0.36 to 208.01 and select up 0.64 to 198.57. Cattle slaughter so far this week was at 321,000 head, compared to 326,000 head last week and 329,000 head this time last year. The Dec contract hit a new low Monday, near one cent lower than the low set last Tuesday. Competition from holiday ham and turkeys has dampened wholesale beef demand and may add continued pressure. December live cattle rallied 2.55 cents to 130.97 cents/pound Wednesday, while February futures gained 2.15 cents to 133.12. January feeder cattle climbed 2.72 cents to 163.95 and March feeders lifted 3.5 cents to 162.52.
LHZ5 (Dec hogs) climbed Wednesday for the second straight day, yet is down 13 cents from a month ago. Country hogs fell .09 lower to 50.26 and the lean hog index fell another 0.86% to 56.49, narrowing the cash/futures spread to under 2 cents. Dec hogs now sit 3 cents below the 20-day moving average. Hog slaughter so far this week was at 1.311 million head, compared to 1.260 million last week and 1.276 million this time last year. On continuous nearby basis, hog futures are at a 6-year low, in large part due to the hog herd expansion that was powered by the 2014 price surge from PEDv-driven shortages. While hog supply is reaching highs as part of this cycle, demand is also under seasonal pressure with the exception of ham demand which may offset declines in other cuts. December hog futures gained 0.45 cents to 54.37 cents/pound at the close Wednesday and April hogs gained 0.97 cents to 62.00.
ICE cotton futures were higher Thursday on technical trading and a lower dollar. On Monday, cotton crop progress was reported at 64% completed, compared to 58% last week and the 74% five-year average. Last week, the US cotton production estimate came in at 13.28 million bales, vs the average estimate for US cotton at 13.13 million bales and the Oct estimate of 13.34 million. The Nov export estimate was steady with last month at 10.20 million bales, vs the average trade expectation of 9.97 million bales. 2015/16 US ending stocks were 3.1 million bales, vs the average forecast of 3.25 million bales. 2015/16 world ending stocks were 106.09 million bales, vs 106.97 million in Oct. December cotton futures gained 0.56 cents to 62.08 cents/pound, while May cotton gained 0.06 cents to 63.71.