CBOT crop markets to open lower on Thursday

Corn futures are called 6 to 7 cents lower. Overnight trade at 6:45 am CT was 6 1/2 to 7 cents lower. The market turned lower overnight on profit-taking following recent gains and on technical selling after the March contract failed to push above $6.50. Ethanol inventories hit an all-time high last week as production has remained strong while demand has been sluggish, which could limit corn demand. However, export demand has improved recently. USDA will release weekly export sales this morning and trade expectations range from 28-43 million bushels.

Soybean futures are called 8 to 9 cents lower. Overnight trade at 6:45 am CT was 8 1/4 to 8 1/2 cents lower. Profit-taking from recent gains are weighing on the market. Production estimates for South American soybean crops have been supportive, but rains this week has relieved crop stress and has improved yield potential in Argentina and Brazil. Losses are expected to be limited by strong export demand. USDA's Weekly Export Sales report this morning is expected to be in the 17-28 million bushels.

Wheat futures are called 8 top 11 cents lower in winter wheat markets. Overnight trade at 6:45 am CT was 9 to 11 1/2 cents lower at the CBOT, 8 cents lower at the KCBT while the MGE was 1/4 of a cent higher. The market is being pressured by profit-taking after futures rallied to technically overbought levels. However, losses are expected to be limited by solid export demand. Weekly Export Sales to be reported this morning are expected to be in the 18-26 million bushels. Weakness will also be limited by concerns about winterkill due to a cold snap in parts of Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Cattle futures are called steady to mixed. Cash trade has not yet developed this week. Packers are short-bought, but have been unwilling to put out steady or higher bids due to the very poor margins. However, boxed beef prices were higher on Wednesday. Futures could see some profit-taking after some deferred months rallied to new contract highs on Wednesday.

Lean hog futures are called steady to mixed. Cash trade was higher on Wednesday and steady bids are expected today. Pork cutouts were up 10 cents yesterday, but packer margins remain poor. Packers appear to be holding slaughter near current levels with demand for hams leading the way. Wholesale demand for Easter hams could be a supportive factor.

Cotton futures are trading higher this morning. The market is recovering slightly from the losses on Wednesday. Traders will be watching weekly export sales this morning and the National Cotton Council survey of U.S. cotton planting to be released on Friday. At 6:30 am CT March cotton as 25 points higher and July was 32 points higher.


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