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Corn futures finished the day off 6-7 cents, and May posted a loss of more than 15 cents on the week. Soils fit to plant corn showed up in much of the Corn Belt towards the end of the week, and with weather forecasts suggesting more rapid planting progress ahead, the market mood was bearish corn and lower wheat prices took the corn market with them. Some traders also are assuming large reductions in feed demand due to the avian flu outbreak, thought initial estimates are less than 25 million bushels. USDA reported 121,400 MT of old crop export sales to unknown destinations in the daily reporting system this morning. The CME announced an increase in daily limits for corn from 25 cents to 30 cents/bushel. The weekly COT report from the CFTC showed managed money accounts made their net short position in Corn another 16,986 contracts shorter than they were last week. Their net position was reported as short -65,298 contracts.
Soybean futures fell about 9 cents but on a weekly basis, the May contract was virtually unchanged. The Argentine Ag Ministry raised projected production there to 59 MMT, vs. 58.5 MMT for the BA futures exchange and USDA at 57 MMT. We do note that the Ag Ministry corn number is way above the rest of the estimates at 30 MMT. We are taking the soybean number with a grain of salt. Price direction due to the status of the Brazilian truckers strike will be more relevant after weekend events have unfolded. CFTC reported the managed money net position in soybeans was net short -47,505 contracts as of the Tuesday close. It was reported at a record net short -81,716 contracts just one week earlier. Commercial accounts were shown to have flipped their net position back to being net short soybeans with a net change of -29,473 contracts week/week.
Wheat futures posted sharp declines to end the day with double digit losses. For the week, Chicago was down 8 cents and KC was off 6 cents, but Minneapolis picked up a 3 cent gain. Despite better than expected old crop export sales yesterday, the pace (99% of commitments vs. 102% average) still lags that needed to meet the recently reduced USDA forecast for the marketing year ending May 31. Managed money accounts increased their net short positions in CBT and KC wheat during the week ending Tuesday April 21 by -14,502 and -10,041 respectively.
Cattle futures extended their rally and finished the day with strong gains. Feeders also saw robust increases. The nearby live cattle contract gained 34 cents and feeders were up 19 cents on the week. The Cattle on Feed report leaned bearish overall. It found 10.8 million head in feedlots on April 1, unchanged from a year ago. However, the trade was looking for a reduction of 1%-2%. Placements during March, at 1.81 million head, were 100.44% of last year and exceeded trade expectations for placements at 92-97% of last year. At 98.3%, March marketings were the lowest since the series began in 1996 but were about as expected, with analysts pegging them at 1-2% below a year ago ahead of the report. The average price of Choice boxed beef dropped $3.02, taking the average to $256.99 and Select fell $3.42, to $247.62. The Commitment of Traders Report from the CFTC showed managed money accounts lightening up their net long position in cattle by about 6.2%. They reduced their longs and added some shorts.
Lean hog futures closed modestly higher, with May up only a few cents but June up $1.125. The CME Lean Hog Index rose 8 cents to $65.18 as of April 22 (two day reporting delay). Pork carcass cutout gleaned another 27 cents, rising to $69.94. Ribs were down $3.94 but the picnic cut pulled the average higher again, up another $2.76 today. Cash prices averaged $64.75 in Iowa/Minnesota, 87 cents higher; the Western Corn Belt rose by 77 cents to $64.59. No price was reported for the Eastern Corn Belt. Managed money accounts increased their net long position in lean hog futures and options by a net 2,407 contracts, taking their net long position as of the Tuesday close to 12,645 contracts. That makes two weeks in a row with funds building their net long position in lean hogs. This week they added both longs and shorts, but obviously more longs.
Cotton futures closed strongly higher again after a surprisingly robust export sales report on Thursday, and with support added by a sharply lower US dollar index, which is improving affordability. May finished the week with a gain of almost 2 cents. The Cotlook A Index was UNCH at 69.75. April 23 certified stocks were 72,131 bales with 1,933 new certs. USDA set the AWP for April 24-30 at 48.56, bumping up the LDP/MLG for this week to 3.44 cents. Spot transactions reported by USDA for the week ended April 23, totaled 8,395 bales. This compares with 6,070 bales last week 2,100 bales reported a year ago. Total spot transactions for the season were 1,986,755 bales, compared with 1,261,079 bales the corresponding week a year ago. Managed money accounts took a net 14,992 contracts off of their net long position in cotton futures and options, making them net long 35,345 contracts at the end of the reporting period on last Tuesday night.