AgriCharts Market Commentary

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Corn futures are trading fractionally lower this morning after posting fractional gains on Wednesday. We’ll get the delayed weekly EIA ethanol report this morning. Ethanol production fell to 1.016 million bpd in last week’s report. Ahead of the USDA Ag Outlook Forum, a Reuters survey showed analysts expect USDA to put 2018 corn planted acreage at 89.902 million acres, slightly lower than 2017. They also estimate that production will run nearly 270 mbu below 17/18 at 14.333 bbu. With the lighter production projected, traders see the USDA placing the 18/19 US ending stocks number around 2.129 bbu, which would be down 223 mbu from the current 17/18 number. An Argentina private consultant firm Agripac estimates the country’s 17/18 corn crop at 37 MMT, compared to the USDA’s 39 MMT.


Soybean futures are currently 4 to 5 cents lower. They closed the Wednesday session with most nearby contracts 5 to 8 cents in the green. Soy meal futures were up $1.50/ton, with nearby soy oil 21 points higher. A survey of traders shows estimates for 2018 soybean acreage at 90.588 million acres ahead of Thursday and Friday’s USDA Ag Outlook forum. That would be nearly 446,000 acres more than in 2017. Expectations for the 18/19 soybean crop average 4.361 bbu, slightly lower than 17/18. US ending stocks for 18/19, however, are estimated to be shown at 564 mbu, 34 mbu larger than the current 17/18 projection.


Wheat futures are 1 to 2 cents lower in most contracts this morning. They were mostly lower on Wednesday, with CBT 2-3 cents in the red and KC down 5-6 cents. MPLS was the strongest on the day, down 1 1/4 cents in the nearby but higher in back months. Some of the HRW crop has seen some moisture this week, but most major areas are still experiencing dryness. Analysts are expecting the USDA to show all wheat acreage for 2018 at 46.082 million acres in this week’s Ag Outlook Forum, just 60,000 above the 2017 acreage number. Production is also projected to be up 82 mbu to 1.823 mbu. They are also expecting the USDA to show 18/19 US ending stocks at 937 mbu, down from the current 1.009 bbu carryout projection. Egypt’s GASC purchased 120,000 MT of Russian wheat for March 22-April 1 delivery, as only Russia and Romania presented offers. Algeria bought 340,000 MT of optional origin wheat on Wednesday, with April-May delivery.


Live cattle futures ended Wednesday with most contracts $1.35 to $1.775 lower, as nearby Feb was down 65 cents. Feeder cattle futures were down $2.00 to $3.35 in most contracts. The CME feeder cattle index was up 12 cents on February 20 at $147.99. Wholesale boxed beef values were higher on Wednesday afternoon. Choice boxes were up $1.45 at $217.37, with Select boxes $1.52 higher at $211.92. Estimated weekly FI cattle slaughter was 324,000 head through Wednesday. That is down 18,000 from the previous week and 5,000 head fewer than the same week last year. There was light cash trade reported on Wednesday of $128. Analysts are estimating that Friday’s USDA Cattle on Feed report will show January placements of 1.989 million head, up 0.4% from last year. January marketings were seen ~6% larger than 2017 at 1.855 million head in a private survey.

Lean Hogs

Lean hog futures finished Wednesday with most contracts 15 to 70 cents higher. The CME Lean Hog Index on February 19 was $71.41, down 68 cents from the previous day. The USDA pork carcass cutout value was 99 cents lower at $78.73 in the Wednesday PM report. The national base hog weighted average price was down 37 cents at $63.92 Wednesday afternoon. The USDA estimated week to date FI hog slaughter at 1,339,000 through Wednesday. That is down 49,000 head from the previous week but 20,000 head more than the same time last year.


Cotton futures are trading 22 to 39 points lower. The US dollar index is a little higher. Cotton settled the Wednesday session with most contracts 93 to 143 points higher. A rising US dollar may be prodding some foreign buyers into action. Cash sales of 41,475 bales were reported on the Seam on Tuesday, with prices averaging 72.17 cents/lb. The USDA Export Sales report is delayed until Friday morning because of the President’s Day holiday. The current USDA Adjusted World Price or AWP is 69.15 cents/lb, and will be updated on Thursday. The Cotlook A index was UNCH from the previous day on February 20 at 86.85 cents/lb.

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