Weekly Roberts Report

US - Agricultural US Commodity Market Report by Mike Roberts, Commodity Marketing Agent, Virginia Tech.
calendar icon 7 May 2008
clock icon 5 minute read

Michael T. Roberts
Extension Agriculture Economist,
Dairy and Commodity Marketing,
NC State University

LIVE CATTLE futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) were off on Monday pressured by profit taking and slow trading. The JUNE’08LC contract closed at $91.200/cwt, down $0.925/cwt and $2.550/cwt lower than last week at this time. AUG’08LC futures were off $0.775/cwt at $97.475/cwt. The grilling season is expected to slow after Mother’s Day and Memorial Day before picking up again for the 4th. The USDA 5-area price reported on Monday was steady at $92.27/cwt. Also on Monday USDA put the choice beef price at $154.27/cwt, up $0.81/cwt. According to HedgersEdge.com, packer margin estimates were still positive at $47.35/head but $14.55/head lower than a week ago. The estimated average buy for a packer was $92.16/cwt vs. a $96.04/cwt breakeven. This market looks like it may have lost some steam from the recent 30-day run up in prices. Cash sellers should consider selling cattle as soon as they are ready. It might be a good idea to price short-term corn inputs at this time.

FEEDER CATTLE at the CME closed mostly up on Monday with the nearby and the March’09 and the April ’09 contracts off somewhat. The May’08FC contract finished at $105.250/cwt, off $0.400/cwt and $1.50/cwt lower than a week ago. AUG’08FC futures were up $1.000/cwt at $108.250/cwt but down $0.925/cwt from last Monday. Heavy spreading in the September/May, lower corn prices, and technical buying were supportive. Cash prices in Oklahoma City were up as much as $1-$3/cwt. The latest CME Feeder Cattle index for May 1 was placed at $104.87/cwt, up $0.21/cwt. Looks like August feeders are rallying on improved pasture conditions. Might be a good idea to price any short-term corn needs … if you don’t have grass.

LEAN HOGS on the CME were up on Monday. The MAY’08LH contract closed at $74.975/cwt, up $1.575/cwt but $0.775/cwt higher than last week. JUNE’08LH futures were up $1.250/cwt closing at $73.20/cwt but $2.250/cwt lower than last Monday. Short covering, fund buying, and declining corn prices were supportive. Traders spread June/July to counter fund spreading of July/June. Cash prices were steady to higher in some spots. USDA on Friday put the pork cutout value at $75.19/cwt, up $0.81/cwt. Packer demand was steady on last week’s USDA announcement the government would buy up to $50 million for the child nutrition and other food assistance programs. Demand is expected to remain steady to firm all week. According to HedgersEdge.com, the estimated average plant margin was a negative $0.45/head, compared to a negative $1.30/head last Monday. The latest CME Lean Hog index was placed at $73.61/cwt, up $0.34/cwt. It might be a good idea to keep market hogs sold as soon as they are ready. Pricing near term corn inputs might not be a bad idea either.

CORN on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) closed down on Monday. The MAY’08 contract finished at $5.820/bu, off 20.0¢/bu and 18.0¢/bu lower than a week ago. The DEC’08 contract closed down 16.6¢/bu at $6.126/bu and 17.6¢/bu lower than last Monday. Profit taking, concerns about dropping ethanol subsidies, and an outlook for better planting weather pressured prices. Those who make laws in Washington are reported to want to freeze biofuel production due to rising food and commodity prices. The farther out from May 1 that corn is planted the less likely to have high yields. If planting doesn’t get going corn acres will be switching to soybean acres; which is bullish for corn and bearish for soybeans. USDA reported late on Monday that 27% of the U.S. corn crop has been planted compared to the 59% average this time of year. Exports have been sluggish. Hopefully 60% of the ’08 crop was priced last week. Market volatility is still a given for corn.

SOYBEAN futures on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) declined on Monday. The MAY’08 contract finished at $12.730/bu, off 19.4¢/bu from last week and 10.4¢/bu lower than a week ago. The NOV’08 soybean contract ended at $12.154/bu, off 3.0¢/bu but 19.0¢/bu higher than last Monday’s close. The market traded on hopes that soybean producers in Argentina were near agreement over their strike. However, late in the day, news wires carried the report that Argentine farmers were still resistant to terms over soybean export taxes that triggered the strike in the first place. Argentinean officials opened up beef exports and announced timeline of producer payments trying to ease tensions but producers continued their demand that the tax policy change or they would resume the strike in full force that ended last Friday. Slow planting progress for the U.S. corn crop weighed on prices as more corn producers are turning to full season soybeans. So far the U.S. soybean crop is getting planted. USDA said that 5% of the U.S. crop has been planted vs. a 5-year average of 14%. Funds began trimming bullish positions in soybeans late in trading. Prices might rebound amid the South American Farmer determination to continue their strike. Exporters are waiting on news of soybean availability before completing orders. The next big news will be USDA’s World Agriculture Supply Demand Estimates. Most likely soybean trade will be choppy at best this week. Hopefully up to 40% of the ’08 crop, as well as 10% of the ’09 crop got priced.

WHEAT futures in Chicago (CBOT) slowed on Monday. The MAY’08 contract closed at $7.924/bu, off 3.4¢/bu and 33.6¢/bu lower than a week ago. The JULY’08 contract closed at $8.054/bu, down 3.4¢/bu and 35.6¢/bu lower than last Monday. Wheat prices were supported by export expectations and concerns for more drought in Australia. The Australian weather bureau stated in its last report that several years of more-thannormal rainfall were needed to offset existing conditions. Global stocks are still tight. USDA put wheatinspected- for-export at 19.548 mi bu vs. expectations for between 15-20 mi bu. There was some fund activity widening bearish positions in CBOT wheat. It might be a good idea to hold off pricing anymore wheat.

August 2008 Live Cattle, May 5, 2008
Data by DTN on the Web

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