The corn market was lower Thursday as the dollar opened sharply higher in delayed reaction to the Fed’s rate move higher Wednesday afternoon. Estimates for this morning’s weekly corn exports are 700,000-900,000 tonnes. Strategie Grains consultancy reports that EU corn production, planted exclusively in the spring, is expected to return to 2013 levels after a bumper crop in 2014 and a drought in 2015. Production is estimated for 2016 at 64.9 million tonnes, up 13% over 2015 due to yield increases. Russia and China signed grain quality control agreements Thursday which could open the Chinese market to Russian grain. March traded below the 20-day moving average for the first time in two weeks, breaking below the 3.73 support. March corn futures were 0.75 cents lower to $3.69 Thursday morning, while May dropped 0.75 cents to $3.745.
The soy complex moved lower Thursday for a third straight session, facing steep pressure from the higher US dollar and moves by Argentina and China to devalue their currencies to boost exports. The anticipated depreciation of the Argentine peso will prompt farmers to export large hoarded stocks of soybeans in coming quarters, holding as much as 700 million bushels of soybeans, equivalent to 20% of a U.S. bean harvest. Estimates for weekly soybean export sales are 900,000-1,300,000 tonnes. Soybean futures were testing contract lows, soyoil falls from RFS-driven highs and meal forges new lows. Support for Jan bean futures can be found at 8.44 and resistance at 8.75. January soybeans were 5.75 cents lower to $8.5675 Thursday, while Jan soyoil lost 39 points to 29.98 cents per pound and January meal lost $1.70 to $268.20.
The wheat complex continued to crater Thursday morning, with Chicago wheat breaking below the 4.85 support yet still above the contract low of 4.66. While global weather remains a supportive global variable, lower world currencies against the US dollar continue to erode prospects of rebounding exports. The amount of snow in the Northern Hemisphere is said to be alarmingly low with temps 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, leaving winter crops vulnerable to the elements. The Baltic index fell to an all-time low of 471 points Tuesday, affirming weakness in shipping rates for dry bulk commodities and broader export frailty. Estimates for weekly wheat exports are 250,000-450,000 tonnes. March CBOT wheat futures fell 4.0 cents to $4.795 per bushel Wednesday, while Mar KC wheat lost 5.5 cents to $4.755, and March MWE moved 2 cents lower to $5.0375.
Live cattle futures fell again Wednesday, erasing much of Tuesday’s bounce as caution resumes regarding cash cattle prices. The downturn in beef demand is not expected to pick up until around early February, after consumers pay off year-end holiday bill. This week, the Senate will decide whether to repeal the WTO ruling on COOL, or face up to $1B intariffs. For Friday’s cattle-on-feed report, November cattle placements are estimated down 4.2% from a year ago, while on-feed cattle were estimated 1% higher and marketings up 2.7%. Cattle slaughter so far this week was estimated at 338,000 head, compared to 335,000 head last week and 325,000 a year ago. February live cattle lost 0.85 cents to 124.97 cents/pound at the close Wednesday, while April futures lost 0.40 to 126.50. January feeder cattle fell 1.0 cent lower to 147.70 cents/pound Wednesday, and March feeders lost 1.02 cents to 146.10.
CME lean hogs fell sharply Wednesday, weighed by the fall in corn and beans and sentiments that large supplies may send wholesale pork prices lower. Buyers were dissuaded by the premium of futures to cash. Country hogs were .41 lower to 49.65 and the lean hog cash index fell .08 to 55.90. Hog slaughter this week so far was estimated at 1.319 million head, vs 1.316 million last week and 1.297 a year ago. Potential for last minute holiday ham orders by retailers will be faced with competition from beef and poultry. USDA data showed Iowa/Minn hog weights averaged 284.1 lbs. for the week ended Dec 12, down 0.3 lb. from the week before and down 1.3 lbs. from a year ago. February futures settled 1.32 cents/pound lower at 57.90 cents/pound at the close Wednesday, while April hogs lost 0.75 to 63.72.
Cotton futures were higher Thursday, despite a stronger dollar after the Fed’s rate hike. Although U.S. cotton ending stocks being lowered in the recent WASDE, global stocks are extraordinarily high at 104 million bales (480 lb.), or nearly 50 billion pounds of cotton. That’s enough to make 127 billion t-shirts, or 17 for every person on earth, according to estimates from the National Cotton Council. Global stocks currently represent about 94% of world consumption, more than double the prevalent ratio during 1980-2010. This is due to China’s stockpiling, which accounts for nearly 60% of world stocks. Last week, U.S. cotton production was lowered to 13.03 mil (480 lb bales), down 2% from last month and down 20% from last year. Mar cotton moved .06 higher to 63.25 cents/pound, while May cotton gained 0.11 to 64.05 cents/pound.