AgriCharts Market Commentary

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Corn futures are trading steady to 1 cent higher. They fell 4 to 6 cents on Wednesday, as nervousness about NAFTA trumped earlier weather concerns. A White House leak (or trial balloon) suggested work was underway for an executive order withdrawing the US from NAFTA. Preliminary open interest sank 35,431 contracts as traders fled the May ahead of first notice day. There was some long liquidation in the December contract. This week’s EIA report showed ethanol production for the week ending April 21 down 6,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 987,000 bpd. At the same time, ethanol stocks were seen as rising 235,000 barrels to 23.269 million barrels. Gasoline use is lagging. Ahead of today’s Export Sales report, analysts are expecting 700,000-900,000 MT of old crop sales, with new crop sales ranging from 50,000-250,000 MT. The USDA Ag attach in Argentina estimates the country’s corn production at 39 MMT, above the official April WASDE estimate.


Soybean futures are currently steady to 1 cent lower after closing mostly 3 1/2 to 8 3/4 cents lower on Wednesday. Soymeal was down $3.90 in the front month, with May 17 Soy oil33 points higher. Expected weather delays for this week and next week in corn and wheat planting may cause soybean acreage to rise. Traders are expecting weekly old crop soybean export sales to be 250,000-450,000 MT in this morning’s report. New crop sales are estimated to range 100,000-300,000 MT. Total soy meal sales are projected at 100,000-350,000 MT, with 8,000-40,000 MT expected from USDA for soy oil sales.


Wheat futures are 1 to 2 cents higher in the SRW and HRW contracts this morning, and 3 to 4 cents higher in the MPLS spring wheat. MPLS was the strongest yesterday as well, 4 to 6 1/4 cents higher in the front months, with KC mostly fractionally higher. CHI was steady to 3 3/4 cents in the red. Some of the HRS area is seeing snow, with forecasts up to 8”. Some HRW acres as far south as central Kansas were expected to see sub-freezing temperatures. Overnight lows reached the upper 20’s in northern KS and down to the low 20’s in northern NE and the Dakotas. USDA Wheat export sales are thought to be 300,000-500,000 MT for old crop for the week of April 20, with US new crop sales ranging 50,000-250,000 MT. There is speculation that wheat production in Russia could drop as much as 8.5% to 67.1 MMT due to difficult conditions for winter wheat.


Live cattle futures rallied sharply in the last 10 minutes of trading on Wednesday. April settled $2.20 higher, as contract expires tomorrow. Preliminary OI data shows net new buying in August and October, with overall OI up 5,695 contracts. Feeder Cattle futures finished $1.125 higher in the April contract, with its last trading day today. Both Aug 17 and Sep 17 were limit up on the day. The CME feeder cattle index was at $139.44 on 4/25, up 13 cents from the previous day. Wholesale beef prices were mixed in the afternoon report. Choice boxes averaged $219.18, up 17 cents, with select losing 55 cents with an average price of $205.72. Of the 5,448 head in the Fed Cattle Exchange auction, 1,945 head were sold. The majority of the sold were for 17-30 day delivery and averaged $125.42, with the rest having 1-9 and 1-17 day delivery and averaging $131.68 and $129.89 respectively. Most of the cattle in the North were asking $133-$135, with the 17-30 day delivery starting at $125, and the South asking $129-$132. Estimated FI cattle slaughter was 347,000 head through Wednesday, up 8,000 from a week ago and 12,000 head from the same Wednesday in 2016.

Lean Hogs

Lean hog futures were mixed on Wednesday, with May down 55 cents and a few back months higher. The CME Lean Hog Index for 4/24 was down another 33 cents to $60.16.The USDA pork carcass value was down 35 cents in the morning FOB Plant report, with an average of $73.47. The loin butt and ham cuts were all reported lower. National cash hog base prices averaged 82 cents higher in the morning report, with a weighted average of $54.46 and a range reported from $49.00-$56.00. Week to date FI hog slaughter was estimated at 1,323,000 head WTD through Wednesday, 138,000 ahead of last week and 36,000 head larger than the same week in 2016.


Cotton futures are trading UNCH to 26 lower this morning, ahead of the weekly Export Sales report. They ended Wednesday from 46 points lower to as much as 52 points higher. The US Dollar was 180 points higher on Wednesday to 98.965. There were 388 bales sold on the Seam, up from only 11 the day before, with the average price at 71.70 cents/lb. The cash basis is holding together in most areas. China sold 22,500 MT of cotton on Wednesday, in an auction of state reserves according to a Reuters report. This morning’s upland cotton export sales are expected to be lower again this week. Cert stocks total 299,098 bales. There were 46 contracts delivered vs. May futures yesterday, bringing the total to 1,377 since deliveries began.

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