March 28th, 2013

Corn futures plunged the most since May, sparking a slump in soybeans and wheat, after the government said U.S. inventories were bigger than analysts forecast and that farmers will plant the most since 1936.

Inventories of corn on March 1 totaled 5.399 billion bushels in the U.S., the world’s biggest grower and exporter, the Department of Agriculture said today. While that’s down 10 percent from 2012 and a nine-year low, analysts expected 4.995 billion. Farmers will sow 97.282 million acres, up from 97.155 million in 2012 and the most in 77 years, the USDA said.

Prices this month jumped 4.5 percent before today and reached a seven-week high yesterday on concern that rising demand from makers of ethanol and animal feed would erode inventories before a record harvest arrives in September. After today’s USDA report, corn prices plunged the maximum allowed on the Chicago Board of Trade, while soybeans fell the most since September and wheat futures had their biggest drop since 2011.

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March 28th, 2013

Soybean Futures – U.S. farmers will sow fewer acres with soybeans this year, the government said, surprising analysts who were expecting a gain. Corn will get the most acreage since 1936, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

About 77.126 million acres will be sown with soybeans, down 0.1 percent from 77.198 million a year ago, the USDA said today in a report based on a survey of farmers. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey were expecting 78.351 million. Corn acreage will reach 97.282 million, up from 97.155 million last year, the agency said. The average analyst estimate was 97.339 million.

Soybean plantings fell in Minnesota, the third-biggest grower, and in every Great Plains state except North Dakota, offsetting increases in Iowa and Illinois, the two top producers. Prices for corn and soybeans are up this year, making the crops attractive for farmers who hope to replenish stockpiles after drought curbed production last year.

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March 28th, 2013

Dow Jones Futures – U.S. stocks were little changed, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose within a point of its record, as reports showed an increase in jobless claims and economic growth that slowed less than previously estimated.

Deckers Outdoor Corp. rallied 5.2 percent after Jefferies Group Inc. raised its price target. BlackBerry (BBRY) climbed 2.6 percent after reporting fourth-quarter results. Red Hat Inc. tumbled 1.4 percent as sales missed estimates. PVH Corp. (PVH) retreated 3.6 percent after the apparel company forecast earnings will trail current analyst estimates.

The S&P 500 (SPX) rose less than 0.1 percent to 1,563.26 at 9:59 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 20.04 points, or 0.1 percent, to 14,546.20. Trading among S&P 500 shares was 27 percent below the 30-day average at this time of day.

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March 28th, 2013

West Texas Intermediate traded near its highest in five weeks and was set for a quarterly gain after U.S. government data showed refineries raised operating rates.

Crude oil futures rose as much as 0.4 percent in New York and have gained 5.2 percent in the past three months. Refineries ran at 85.7 percent of capacity last week, up 2.2 percentage points from the prior week and the most since January, figures from the Energy Department showed yesterday. U.S. crude stockpiles increased 3.3 million barrels, according to the report. They were forecast to gain 1.33 million barrels, an earlier Bloomberg News survey showed.

“Fundamentals remain well-balanced,” said Michael Poulsen, an analyst at Global Risk Management in Middelfart, Denmark. “Global oil demand remains near all-time highs.”

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March 28th, 2013

Cocoa futures climbed for a third day in London and New York, and the gains may be capped as Ghana still has to sell more beans. Robusta coffee fell for a fifth day.

Cocoa has climbed the past three days on buying by speculators because the market is “still considered tight,” Kona Haque, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in London. Cocoa demand may be equal to or slightly above production this season, she said.

“Every time the market tries to rally we get into Ghana selling,” Haque said by phone today. “Speculators are pushing the market higher.”

Cocoa futures for May delivery climbed 0.6 percent in New York to $2,162 a metric ton by 7:41 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. Prices are down 3.3 percent in New York this year and up 1.7 percent in London. Beans trade in pounds in London and dollars in New York.

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March 27th, 2013

Cattle futures rallied Wednesday on short-covering before the extended Easter holiday weekend, analysts and traders said.

CME livestock pit trading will close at the normal 1 p.m. CT time on Thursday. The exchange will be closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

April and June live cattle futures broke through their respective 10-day moving average resistance levels of 126.36 cents and 121.75 (all figures US$). The move triggered fund buying and buy stops.

Futures’ advances reinforced beliefs that unsold cash cattle would trade fully steady with last week’s $124 to $125 per hundredweight (cwt).

On Tuesday, cash cattle in Texas sold for $125/cwt, feedlot sources said. There were no cash bids or asking prices elsewhere in the U.S. Plains, they said.

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March 26th, 2013

Cattle futures rose for the third time in four sessions on signs of shrinking U.S. supply of animals available to beef processors. Hogs declined.

About 1.482 million young cattle were placed into feedlots last month, 14 percent less than a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a March 22 report after the close of trading in Chicago. The February placements were the lowest for that month since the government began tracking the data in 1996.

The report “is supportive” for cattle prices, Dennis Smith, an analyst at Archer Financial Services, said in a telephone interview.

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March 27th, 2013

S&P 500 Futures – U.S. stocks declined, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index yesterday approached a record high, as concern over Europe’s debt crisis intensified and pending American home sales slipped in February.

Banks retreated as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. fell at least 0.9 percent. Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. tumbled 13 percent after Morgan Stanley downgraded the shares. Dollar General Corp. (DG) slumped 2 percent after it said 30 million shares will be sold in a secondary offering. Mattress Firm Holding Corp. rallied 9.4 percent after Raymond James & Associates Inc. raised its rating on the retailer.

The S&P 500 dropped 0.4 percent to 1,557.99 at 11:03 a.m. in New York. The equity benchmark rallied 0.8 percent yesterday as orders for durable goods and home prices exceeded estimates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 55.70 points, or 0.4 percent, to 14,503.95 today. Trading among S&P 500 shares was 17 percent below the 30-day average.

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March 26th, 2013

Gasoline advanced as increases in durable goods orders and home prices indicated the U.S. economy is strengthening and fuel demand may improve.

Gasoline futures rose 0.5 percent as bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 5.7 percent in February, boosted by automobiles and a rebound in commercial aircraft, a Commerce Department report showed. Residential real estate prices increased in January by the most since June 2006, indicating the U.S. housing market strengthened at the start of the year.

“All of a sudden, the economy is looking a little better,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “People feel richer when the value of their house goes up and increased durable goods orders could mean better demand.”

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March 26th, 2013

Hog futures rallied to an eight- month high on signs of increasing demand for U.S. pork. Cattle were little changed.

Wholesale pork yesterday rose 0.9 percent to 77.96 cents a pound, the highest since March 19, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Spot hogs added 2.6 percent to 70.86 cents a pound yesterday, the biggest increase since Feb. 5, government data show. Prices have fallen 12 percent this year.

“We’re getting into that time of year where you’re going to see a lot more grilling featured in the grocery stores, and you’re going to see a lot more domestic demand,” Lou Arens, a broker at PCI Advisory Services in Waucoma, Iowa, said in a telephone interview. “Everything’s been depressed for so long. It’s finally to the point where it’s going to turn the corner.”

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