CORN------

Corn closed the week 9 ¾ cents lower. Private exporters announced a sale of 136,000 metric tons (mts) of corn sold to South Korea. 

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. corn exports last week of 32.7 million bushels (mb) were down from the previous week's 35.3 mb but were above last year's same-week exports of 31.2 mb.  Not a single week's exports so far this year have met the current 40.1 mb per week average that is needed through the end of August in order to reach the USDA's 1.725 billion bushel (bb) export projection. Cumulative exports of 589 mb are down 44% from last year's 1.048 bb, while USDA is projecting a nearly 17% decline in exports on the year. 

The USDA left U.S. corn ending stocks at 1.892 bb, the yield was left unchanged at 168.0 bpa and exports were left unchanged at 1.725 bb. I believe the USDA is way overestimating old crop corn exports. Corn will need to average about 40 mb each week to hit the 1.725 bb forecast until the end of this marketing year. Corn hasn’t reached that level once so far in this marketing year and with Argentina and Ukraine harvest starting, reaching their forecast is going to be next to impossible unless something drastic happens to the Argentine crop quickly. 

Strategy and outlook: A bounce off long term technical support should be seen as a selling opportunity. Any weather-related rallies need to be sold as producers rid themselves of both old and new crop inventories.

 

SOYBEANS------

Soybeans closed the week 42 ¼ cents lower. Private exporters announced sales totaling 440,500 mts of soybeans to unknown destinations. 

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. soybean exports were 21 mb, this was a new low for the 2019/20 marketing year. Cumulative exports of 1.107 bb are now up just 12% from last year's 987 million after being up 26% year-over-year in early January.  In order to reach the USDA's 1.825 bb export projection, shipments will need to average nearly 26 mb per week during March-August, a feat only viewed as possible if China makes substantial purchases of old crop soybeans at some point. 

The USDA left U.S. soybean stocks at 425 mb versus 425 mb last month. The USDA made no changes to the US 2019/20 balance sheet and the yield was the same at 47.4 bushels per acre. Brazil’s soybean production was raised 1 million metric tons (mmt) to 126 mmt while Argentina’s bean production was also raised 1 mmt to 54 mmt.

Strategy and outlook: A record South American soybean crop is hurting US exports. Futures broke thru key support and now are challenging next support at the spring of 2019 lows.

 

WHEAT-------

For the week, Chicago wheat closed 8 ½ cents lower, Kansas City wheat closed 12 ¼ cents lower and Minneapolis wheat 17 ¼ cents lower. Exporters did not announce any export sales. 

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. wheat exports last week of 15.2 mb were below last year's same-week exports of 22.6 mb and were a six-week low. Wheat exports over the last six weeks averaged 18.5 mb per week, moderately below the roughly 21.4 million per week average estimated that is needed over the final three months of the marketing year in order to reach the USDA's 1 bb export projection. 

Cumulative exports of 707 mb are still up 9% from last year's 648 million, but declining and compare to USDA's estimated 6.8% increase in marketing year total exports from last year. 

The USDA left the wheat balance sheets unchanged for 2019/20 and all class carryout numbers were unchanged from the February report. Ending stocks were left at 940 mb. Kansas wheat ratings are improved at 47% good or excellent this week versus 43% Oklahoma is 58% good or excellent versus 57% but ratings declined in Texas at 26% good or excellent versus 36% last week. Texas corn planting is now 28% done, well ahead of average pace of 10%. 

The USDA will issue the first full crop progress report on Monday, April 6.

Strategy and outlook: Wheat has pulled back from its recent highs as the winter wheat crop is seeing beneficial growing conditions across the Plains.

 

LIVE CATTLE-----

live cattle closed $10.45 lower while feeder cattle closed $17.12 lower. Fed cattle trade occurred in the North this week at $110 live and $175 dressed - $3 to $7 per hundredweight lower than last week while trade in the South developed at $110, $3 lower compared to last week after bids were raised from $107 to $108 and eventually $110. 

The Fed Cattle Exchange Auction reported a total of 460 head for sale, all sold at $110. There was a total of three lots offered, one in Texas, one in Nebraska and one in Kansas. All asked $110 and traded at that price. The latest USDA steer carcass weights were down 3 pounds compared to the prior week at 897, making them 23 pounds above last year. 

Last week's net beef sales of 17,700 metric tons (MT) for 2020. 

Beef exports posted more modest growth in January, increasing 2.5% from a year ago in volume and 5% in value. But beef muscle cut exports were the highest ever for the month of January at 81,342 mt, up 4% from a year ago, while muscle cut value increased 5% to $589.2 million.

Strategy and outlook: Reaction to the coronavirus and fears of a slowing economy have sent cattle futures into a free fall. The cattle market is trading the stock market and the economy as the health of the economy weakens.

 

HOGS----

Lean hogs closed the week $9.67 lower. 

Iowa/Minnesota weekly hog weights saw a small increase to 286.7 pounds versus 286.3 pounds the week prior and 284.7 pounds last year. 

This week's net pork sales saw a net reduction of 26,600 mts for 2020. Chinese buyers canceled a record amount of U.S. pork last week after imports were piling up at the Asian giant’s ports amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

China cut purchases of 45,200 metric tons of pork, according to weekly data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s the most ever in data that began in 2010. 

January pork exports cooled slightly from the volume and value records established in December 2019, but still far exceeded year-ago levels. Both the January export volume of 273,603 metric tons (mt), up 36% year-over-year, and export value ($738.7 million, up 50%) were the second-highest on record.

Strategy and outlook: Large supplies of hogs are keeping pressure against the cash markets and front-month futures. Hog weights are expected to rise into the spring.

Brian Hoops is president and senior market analyst of Midwest Market Solutions Inc. The home office is in Springfield, Mo., with branch offices in Thief River Falls, Minn.; Verona, N.D.; Yankton, S.D.; Storm Lake, Iowa; and Springfield, Neb.