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Corn futures settled mostly 5 1/2 cents lower on Thursday. Weekly data released by EIA put ethanol production for the week ending 2/17 at 1.034 million barrels per day (bpd). That is 6,000 bpd fewer than the week previous and the lowest production since 12/23. Meanwhile, ethanol stocks rose to 22.669 million barrels, 169,000 more than the week before. The USDA OCE projected 2017 corn acreage in their Ag Outlook Forum this morning, at 90 million acres (ma). That is a 4.3% change from last year’s 94 ma. They also project average corn prices to rise 10 cents to $3.50 for 2017/18 from $3.40 this year. Trade estimates for tomorrow’s export sales report are for corn sales to be between 800,000 and 1,100,000 MT for old crop, and 300,000 to 500,000 MT for new crop.
Soybean futures closed 11 to 11 1/2 cents lower today, pressured by the higher acreage projections announced by USDA this morning. March 17 soy meal futures were down $4.20 and March 17 bean oil was 40 points in the red. Soybean acreage for 2017 was projected by the USDA at 88 ma. If accurate, that would be a 5.5% larger area than in 2016. Estimated average soybean price is projected to rise 10 cents to $9.60 for 2017/18 by the USDA Chief Economist. Actual WASDE estimates won’t begin until May for new crop. Analysts are expecting to see export sales from 550,000 to 850,000 MT of old crop soybeans, and 100,000 to 300,000 MT for new crop in this week's export sales report. Soy meal sales are estimated to be 100,000 to 300,000 MT and bean oil sales are projected to be 5,000 to 25,000.
Wheat futures finished mixed in the three markets. CHI is the weakest with most contracts down 2 1/4 to 3 1/4. KC was steady to fractionally higher, and MPLS contracts were mostly a penny higher. Projections for US wheat planted area in 2017 issued by the USDA this morning is at 46 ma, slightly below trade estimates. The average price for wheat is projected to be $4.30, up from $3.85 in 2016, an increase of 11.7%. Old crop export sales in the weekly report on Friday morning are expected to be in the range of 350,000 - 550,000 MT, with new crop bookings expected between 0 and 50,000 MT. The IGC left 16/17 global wheat production unchanged at 752 MMT. Syria has struck another wheat trade deal with Russia, this time for 1.2 MMT. That is on top of the 1 MMT deal that is still in place from October.
Live cattle futures closed $1.775 higher in Feb 17 and were up 45 cents in April 17. Feeder futures were mixed on the day with the front three contracts staying relatively close to the unchanged mark. The CME feeder cattle index was at $127.41 for 2/22, up 29 cents. Cash cattle trade was thin on Thursday without enough purchases for a full market trend. Wednesday trade had sales between $124 - $125 in NE, CO and the Southern Plains; WCB sales were between $123-$125. Wholesale beef prices were higher in the afternoon report with choice boxes up $1.66 and select boxes averaging $2.02 higher. WTD slaughter is larger than both last week and the same period last year. The Cold Storage report this afternoon showed frozen beef stocks in all positions as of January 31 were 0.6% larger than a year ago, but down about 5.33% month/month. The USDA will issue the Cattle on Feed report tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. CST. The average trade estimate for Feb 1 Cattle on Feed is 100.6% in one survey, with some analysts expecting both placements and marketings during January to be 10% larger than year ago.
Lean hog futures posted triple digit losses in the April contract, with other deferred contracts 52.5 to 62.5 cents lower. The CME Lean Hog Index for 2/21 was at $77.64, up 40 cents vs. 2/20. The USDA’s average pork carcass value was reported at $80.26 this afternoon, up $0.02. The average belly primal price was $2.14 higher after seeing steep losses since Monday. National cash hog base prices averaged $70.85, down $1.54 cents from Wednesday's average with all prices reported between $64 and $72. The WCB and IA/MN area averages were each down $2.20 today. WTD slaughter is 7,000 head larger than it was a week ago, and 87,000 head larger than the same week last year. USDA's monthly and annual Cold Storage reports showed frozen pork stocks in all positions as of January 31 were up 10.8% month/month, but down 15.8% vs. the same date a year ago. Belly stocks were down another 22% from December, and down about 77% vs. the same date last year.
Cotton futures ended Thursday 14 to 88 points higher. USD futures lost 240 points on the session at this time. The USDA Chief Economist projects all cotton acreage to rise 14.2% to 11.5 ma in 2017. That is 1.4 ma over 2016 and 600,000 acres larger than what the Cotton Grower magazine projected in a recently published survey. Cotton prices are projected to lose 5.8% in 2017 form 69 to 65 cents/lb due to that extra supply. The Cotlook A index gained 15 points on Feb 22 to 84.25. The AWP through today is 67.19, with the new one through next Thursday at 65.58.