AgriVisor Afternoon MarketWatch

Thursday, February 22, 2018
***** Corn futures up a penny in the front; soybeans off 2 1/4 cents; Chicago wheat gains 4 to 4 3/4. *****

   # Estimates from the USDA’s annual Outlook Forum pegged the 2018 U.S. planting area mix at 90 million acres apiece for both corn and soybeans.  Analysts were thinking we could have seen the soybean number a little higher.  Still plenty of time for weather and prices to change minds before the March 29 Prospective Plantings report.    
   # Soybean ran out of steam after the acreage estimates allowed the board an initial bounce.  The short-run technical measures are starting to flash overbought and encourage some profit-taking.  Futures also face the slight headwind of increased farmer selling.
   # Farmers are catching up on old-crop corn sales, which are reaching near a normal pace of about 65 percent marketed.  Sales typically slow into the planting season with the five-year average marketing totals for April and May being 6 and 5.4 percent, respectively.  
   # New corn export sales are expected to top 1 million tons again this week.  Soybean sales should come in near 750,000 tons with wheat bookings near 400,000 tons.  The weekly export sales report was delayed until tomorrow due to Monday’s holiday.  
   # The International Grains Council issued its latest report on global grain production estimates.  The group predicts global grain output dropping by 2 percent this year. Record trade volumes are expected in 2018.
   # It was a strong week for ethanol usage, with production up 5 percent.  Corn grind was estimated at 110 million bushels.  Also friendly on the report was the calculation of a drawdown for ethanol inventories.  
   # Oil futures rallied on a weekly energy inventory report that found crude stocks having fallen by more than expected last week.  Domestic oil inventories were called down by 1.6 million barrels when most had expected them to rise by about that much.    
***** Live cattle down $0.25 to $1.30; feeders off $0.65 to $1.02; hogs up $1.27 to $1.65. ***** 

   # Cattle futures worked lower behind a softer cash market.  Beef prices are holding up into the end of the week and keep buyers on their heels.  Traders will look to see if tomorrow’s cash trade holds in line with the $128 live that was marked down earlier in the week.            
   # Hog futures rallied as technical buyers stepped in to fade the recent selloff.  Pork prices were up today to help keep packer margins robust and cash interest supported.