Ag markets diverged again Thursday

Weather news continued weighing on corn futures Thursday. The weekly USDA Export Sales report seemed supportive of CBOT corn prices, but the market suffered moderate across-the-board losses today. Ultimately, improved Midwest weather and prospects for a huge fall crop are depressing prices. July corn slumped 7.25 cents to $4.49/bushel at its Thursday settlement, while December slid 6.25 cents to $4.4725.

The export data apparently disappointed soy traders. Although the bean sales figure on the weekly Export Sales report again proved positive, the shipments figure reportedly disappointed bulls. The whole complex moved lower as the day passed, with Asian palm weakness rather clearly weighing on oil values once again. Traders doubt old-crop demand strength at this point. July soybeans plunged 22.0 cents to $14.605/bushel in late-Thursday trading, while July soyoil dove 0.56 cents to 38.69 cents/pound, and July soymeal slipped $5.9 to $490.6/ton.

The Export Sales report seemed to affect the wheat markets. CBOT wheat prices declined Thursday, whereas the KC and Minneapolis markets traded firmly. A look at the breakdown of sales on the weekly Export Sales report may explain the difference, since last week's SRW shipments lagged behind those for hard winter and spring wheat. July CBOT wheat futures closed 8.75 cents lower at $6.0575/bushel Thursday, while July KCBT wheat gained 0.5 cent to $7.14 and July MWE futures inched up 1.0 cent to $6.905.

Cattle traders apparently expect late-week cash strength. CME live cattle futures rose strongly Thursday despite late wholesale slippage. That probably reflects growing industry expectations for firm-to-higher cash quotes later today and/or tomorrow. August cattle surged 1.15 cents to 141.32 cents/pound Thursday afternoon, while December advanced 0.80 cents to 147.62. Meanwhile, August feeder cattle jumped 1.05 cents to 199.82 cents/pound, and October advanced 0.60 to 200.52.

Nearby hog futures rebounded from Wednesday night losses. Wednesday afternoon cash and wholesale reports looked quite supportive of short-term hog price prospects, especially since traders anticipate a big summer surge. Chicago prices fell significantly overnight, but the nearby contracts staged a sizeable comeback as the day passed, despite midday slippage in pork values. August hog futures closed 0.40 up cents at 128.20 cents/pound Thursday, while December dropped 0.37 to 93.95.

Strong export data didn't seem to help cotton futures Thursday. The weekly USDA report stated last week's cotton sales well above the week-prior figure, but it only slightly exceeded the four-week average. The latter statistic may explain the muted response to the news. Fiber prices are testing major technical support. July cotton dipped 0.58 cents to 85.50 cents/pound as Thursday's ICE session ended, while December cotton tumbled 0.26 to 77.62.


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