Ag markets diverged significantly Thursday

Despite the system that came through the Corn Belt Wednesday, it looks as if short-term weather conditions will remain highly conducive to accelerated corn plantings. That news is very likely weighing upon corn futures Thursday morning, although bears could also point to a disappointing result for new crop corn sales on the weekly USDA Export Sales report. July corn sank 9.25 cents to $6.415/bushel Thursday, while December dropped 8.0 cents to $5.24.

The increased possibility that Corn Belt corn plantings will get done on time seemingly supported deferred soybean futures Thursday, whereas tight old crop conditions apparently sparked fresh buying of the nearby July future. Traders reacted little to the disappointing results of the weekly Export Sales report. July soybean futures jumped 14.75 cents to $14.275/bushel at its Thursday close, while July soyoil added 0.17 cents to 49.52 cents/pound, and July soybean meal gained $4.4 to $414.9/ton.

The weekly USDA Export Sales report had mixed implications for wheat futures. The old crop total, at 125,000 tonnes, bisected pre-report forecasts, whereas the new crop figure, at 415,700 tonnes topped expectations. Nevertheless, wheat futures moved generally lower Thursday morning. Corn weakness probably sparked some selling, but the bearish implications of the USDA WASDE report released last Friday seemed to dominate the outlook. July CBOT wheat futures fell 5.75 cents to $6.8775/bushel at the end of Thursday trading, and July KCBT wheat tumbled 9.75 cents to $7.435, while July MGE futures slipped 1.5 cents to $8.04.

Cattle traders apparently remain generally pessimistic about the 2013 outlook, since all four remaining contracts continue trading below current cash values. Short-term bearishness is likely justified, especially if the ongoing beef rally strangles consumer demand. Still, the downside for the CME market may be limited due to the bearishness already built into futures. June cattle edged 0.10 cents lower to 119.90 cents/pound at the Thursday close, while December skidded 0.20 to 124.27. Meanwhile, August feeder cattle futures dipped 0.17 cents to 145.12 cents/pound, whereas November bounced 0.12 cents to 150.40.

After declining in concert with fed cattle Wednesday, CME lean hog futures rebounded strongly Thursday. Persistent cash firmness and possible anticipation of more of the same seemingly sparked fresh buying. Bulls could also point to the wholesale market; the large Wednesday afternoon surge in pork values was followed by further gains at midday. June hog futures closed 0.95 cents higher, at 92.87 cents/pound Thursday afternoon, while December futures added 0.25 cents to 77.35.