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Corn futures closed mostly 2 or 3 cents lower on the day, despite a more than 700 point correction in the US Dollar Index. The national average cash corn index was at $3.56 1/4 as of Monday night. That puts the national average basis at -31 3/4 cents, which is 12 3/4 cents weaker than it was a year ago. The cash price is 58 1/4 cents below the same day last year. Looking ahead to 2015 crops, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) budgets are using 89 million planted acres, down from 90.6 million last year, and they penciled in a 165 bpa yield.
Soybean futures closed almost a dime lower despite continued concerns about dryness in parts of South America. In GuanDong province of China, the crush margin for North American and Brazilian soybeans is still about equal – in the red by about $15/ton –despite the strength in the dollar. On Monday the Yuan tested the boundary of what the government will tolerate when it traded 1.94% weaker than the limit of the reference rate at the Peoples Bank of China. The stronger dollar and weaker Yuan ultimately could hurt US competitiveness. The US national cash price was at $9.33 3/4 on Monday night. That puts the national average basis at -49 3/4 cents, which is 16 1/2 cents weaker than it was a year ago. Turning to 2015 crops, CBO sees a jump from 83.7 million acres last year to 86 million this year, but projects a slight drop in the crop size.
Wheat futures were not excluded from the lower grain market prices today, ending the day off by 1 1/2 cents for soft red winter, more than 4 cents for hard red winter and more than 2 cents for spring wheat. Logistics problems in the Pacific Northwest continue to affect wheat movement, with some exporters not issuing bids for nearby delivery, and most active bids slightly lower on the day. Barge basis for both hard red and soft red winter wheat at the Gulf is unchanged to a nickel lower. As wheat gets closer to resuming growth, net-drying conditions in the Plains may become a concern. Most of Kansas received half an inch or less of precipitation in the month ended Jan. 26, for instance. However, with ample global supplies, the market is not showing much concern at this time.
Cattle futures settled limit-up in February and April, with slightly lesser increases in the later months. Feeder futures were mixed, with the January contract falling but other months were sharply higher. Cash cattle activity is quiet to start the week, with the last established market for top quality steers last week; mostly at $160. The afternoon report for wholesale beef showed Choice boxes down a hefty $3.71 at $247.70 and Select boxes averaged fell even more, by $4.53, to $240.26. Week to date estimated cattle slaughter is 111K head, which is down 1,000 vs. a week ago and up 4K from a year ago. The CME feeder cattle index is $206.21, down $2.26.
Lean hog futures settled down pretty heavily on the day, following the triple digit gains posted during the Monday session after news spread of Russia easing its restrictions on pork imports from some EU-27 countries, which would potentially open up US exports to Asian markets that are currently taking the EU product. The carcass cutout was $81.61 in the PM report, down $2.86 from the previous day; bellies fell $7.23 and ribs were off $6.01 on the day. USDA estimated week to date slaughter is 852K, 2.7% above a week earlier when it was 830K, and also 5% above a year ago. On a live basis, cash hogs in Iowa/Minnesota averaged $67.76, down 66 cents; Western Corn Belt was at $67.66, down 29 cents; no live price was reported for the Eastern Corn Belt. The CME lean hog index is at $72.91, down 66 cents.
Cotton futures ended the day modestly higher. US export sales have also been surprisingly robust considering the smaller 2015 Chinese import quotas. The price differential has meant Chinese firms are taking anything they are allowed to bring in. Cotton export sales commitments are 92% of the full year USDA forecast, well above the average 84% by this date. The US Dollar Index was off 0.777 at 94.023 and crude oil futures were up 58 cents per barrel on the day. ICE certified cotton stocks are at 54,401, with 4,191 new certs, with another 8,515 bales awaiting review. The Cotlook A Index is at 65.30, off 0.50 from the previous day.