Ag markets posted mixed closes ahead of Thursday's USDA reports

Traders were looking forward to Thursday's USDA reports Wednesday. Expectations for a massive corn harvest have weighed heavily upon the market this summer. However, the possibility that tomorrow's USDA Crop Production and WASDE reports will hold surprises apparently spurred short-covering ahead of their release. Thus, corn futures traded slightly higher. December corn futures closed up 1.5 cents to $3.4575/bushel Wednesday, while May rose 1.25 to $3.6675.

Short-covering offered some support for the soy complex. The ag industry expects the forthcoming soy harvest to smash all former records, which essentially explains the huge losses suffered by new-crop prices in mid-2014. Still, there are considerable risks associated with the reports, so it wasn't terribly surprising to see short-covering and/or position-squaring support prices today. November soybean futures bounced 1.0 cent to $9.9375/bushel at Wednesday's settlement, while October soyoil inched up 0.07 cents to 31.63 cents/pound, but October soymeal slid $3.4 to $349.0/ton.

Wheat traders remained quite bearish. One might easily have assumed the wheat markets would also bounce prior to Thursday's reports, but actual spring-wheat production data won't be published until September 30. Thus, traders were more focused upon the likely bearish global results on the WASDE report. December CBOT wheat fell 7.75 cents to $5.1975/bushel in late Wednesday action, while December KC wheat dropped 7.5 cents to $6.155/bushel, and December MWE wheat sagged 6.5 to $5.9875.

Demand concerns seemed to halt the recent cattle rally. Although the cash cattle market seems likely to remain strong, and might actually rise again later this week, CME futures turned decidedly lower today. Traders cited demand concerns, but bears probably got help from technicians as well, since October couldn't sustain its push to fresh highs. October live cattle futures crept up 0.02 cents to 159.70 cents/pound at their Wednesday close, while December futures stumbled 0.17 to 162.10. October feeder futures dove 0.62 cents to 227.12 cents/pound, and January feeders tumbled 0.32 to 219.35.

Most hog futures posted a mixed performance Wednesday. Spillover selling from the cattle market probably depressed hog futures at midday, although the nearby contracts sustained their early gains into the close. As in the cattle/beef complex, the hog/pork industry has to worry about sustained demand strength. October hogs ended Wednesday having jumped 1.32 cents to 107.10 cents/pound, while December gained 0.40 to 98.65.


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