AgriCharts Market Commentary
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Corn futures ended Thursday mostly 2 cents lower, despite larger than expected export sales. May 17 closed at its lowest price for 2017. The USDA weekly exports sales report this morning had old crop corn sales at 1,347,016 MT, well over expectations, with new crop sales at 127,112 MT. Old crop sales were 4.7% larger than the previous week, and 67.7% higher than the same week a year ago. Export shipments were at 1,382,229 MT, down 12.5% from last week, but 38.57% above last year as this time. Argentine corn harvest is estimated at 8.1% complete by the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. Chinese corn imports for February were 142,556 MT, according to Chinese customs data. Though they are trying to decrease stockpiles, that is 128% larger than the previous February. DDGS imports were 68,860 MT, down 61.9% from February 2016 due to steep tariffs implemented in 2016.
Soybean futures lost 6 3/4 to 8 3/4 cents on most contracts today. May 17 is at its lowest price since mid-October. Soymeal futures were down $2.80 and soy oil was 30 points lower. In the weekly export sales report, the USDA announced 738,169 MT of old crop soybean sales. That is 56.5% larger than last week, and 79.7% above the same week in the previous year. New crop sales were pegged at 79,902 MT. Soy meal export sales were 134,337 MT for 16/17, down 65.5% from the previous week. Soy oil sales were 15,334 MT, above last week’s net reduction of 35,766 MT. The National BioDiesel Board has petitioned the US Commerce Dept and US International Trade Commission to look into Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel imports. They claim those countries have taken US market share with subsidized biodiesel, according to a report from Reuters. Total February Chinese imports were 22.9% larger than last February, at 5.54MMT. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange increased estimates for soybean production to 56.6 MMT from 54.8 MMT.
Wheat futures finished the day mixed on the three exchanges. MPLS was 3 to 5 1/2 cents higher. CHI was mostly 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 cents lower, and KC was down 4 to 4 1/2 cents. Old crop export sales of 418,477 MT were reported by the USDA this morning, up 58.2% from last week and 113.4% of the same week the previous year. New crop sales were at 149,790 MT. Weekly shipments were 4.8% above last week and 82.3% larger than the same time last year. Japan purchased 117,689 MT of Australian, Canadian, and US wheat in their weekly tender, with 57,100 MT from the US. SovEcon estimates Russia’s 2017 wheat crop at 62.5 MMT, which would be well below last season’s production of 73.3 MMT.
Live cattle futures closed the day 67.5 cents to $1.05 lower. Feeder cattle futures lost 30 cents to $1.25. The CME feeder cattle index was at $131.58 for 3/22, a daily gain of $1.56. Wholesale beef prices in the afternoon report were lower, as choice boxes were down 72 cents and select was 3 cents lower. USDA weekly beef export sales were 14,607 MT, down 9.4% from last week, but 276.2% larger than the same week last year. DTN reported bids of $133 live and $212 to $215 dressed in NE and IA, with bids of $126 in KS. They also showed dressed sales of $215 in NE. Estimated FI cattle slaughter WTD is 463,000 head, up 6,000 from last week and 29,000 head more than the same time last year. The Cattle on Feed report is released tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. with estimates of March 1 COF at 100.1% of last year. Placed cattle in February are projected at 98.8% of last February, while marketed cattle are estimated at 3.5% larger. JBS in Brazil plans to cut beef production by 35% next week, amid sales and production issues tied to the bribery investigation.
Lean hog futures came back to post gains of $1.20 to $1.85 today after showing losses earlier in the day. The CME Lean Hog Index for 3/21 was down 7 cents to $71.41. USDA’s average pork carcass value in the afternoon report was $77.49, down $1.55. The picnic and ham were slightly higher. National cash hog base prices were 44 cents lower with the weighted average at $65.06. In the weekly export sales report, pork showed 30,138 MT of 2017 sales, 133.1% above the previous week and 56.2% ahead of the same week from a year ago. Mexico was the largest buyer, purchasing 12,600 MT. WTD estimated FI slaughter for hogs was 1,767,000 head on Thursday, 8,000 more than last week and 92,000 head above the same week in 2016.
Cotton futures settled mixed on the day with nearby contracts down 2-7 points and most deferred months in the green. The US dollar index was 49 points higher at 99.726 on Thursday. The new USDA average world price (AWP) is 68.26 through next Thursday. There is of course no LDP. The Cotlook A index was down 50 points on March 22 to 86.35. The USDA reported all upland old crop export sales of 328,227 RB, and new crop sales of 201,294 RB. Total export sales of all upland cotton were15.58% above last week and nearly three times (287.96%) as large as the same week in the previous year. Total commitments are 67.4% ahead of last year at this point. Weekly shipments were at 379,730 RB, 12.37% higher than last year and 76.72% ahead of this time a year ago.