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Corn finishes mixed as soybeans, wheat drop

Soybeans were sharply lower on fund and technical selling. The anticipation of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates another quarter point in their efforts to tame inflation pressured commodities in general during Wednesday’s session. That’s the ninth consecutive rate hike in just over a year. Brazil’s record harvest is advancing, with basis dropping due to a lack of storage. That’s likely going to push even more Brazilian beans into the export market. That stands in contrast to the expectations for further reductions to Argentina’s production estimate and the near certainty of a big drop in soybean product exports for the world’s largest seller. Brazil and the U.S. are expected to pick up some of that slack, in addition to other oil meals and vegetable oil exporters. Soybean meal and oil followed beans lower, despite those expectations, solid domestic demand, and bullish margins. The USDA’s next round of supply and demand estimates is out April 11th, with CONAB’s updated outlook for Brazil’s crop scheduled for April 13th. The trade is also keeping an eye on conditions ahead of widespread U.S. planting.

Corn was mixed on bull spreading, supporting nearby contracts, while pressuring deferred months. Rain is delaying fieldwork and early planting in some areas of the Midwest, but that should help set up a good start to the growing season. The USDA’s prospective planting and quarterly stocks numbers are out on the 31st. China bought 178,000 tons of U.S. corn Wednesday morning, the sixth business day out of the last seven with a reported sale for a running total topping 2.4 million tons, all for 2022/23 delivery. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says ethanol production last week averaged 997,000 barrels a day, a 10-week low, down 17,000 on the week and 45,000 on the year. Stocks were reported at 26.188 million barrels, a decrease of 206,000 from a week ago, but an increase of 45,000 from a year ago. Operating margins for the average Iowa plant fell back to near breakeven last week. Corn is also monitoring second crop corn planting in Brazil and the dwindling crop prospects for Argentina. 60% of Argentina’s crop is reportedly in poor to very poor condition.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling. There’s rain in the forecast for many winter wheat growing areas, but it could miss the southwestern Plains. Conditions ratings improved a little for most hard red winter states last week, but that persistent drought has led to concerns about yield and the potential for increased abandonment. Soft red winter conditions remain comparatively favorable, maybe a little wet, and the trade is looking at possible delays for spring planting in the northern U.S. Plains and Canada. Russia and Ukraine continue to hold most of the export market, with the European Union and Australia also active. U.S. prices, technically, are competitive, until shipping costs are factored in. The USDA’s weekly sales numbers are out Thursday morning. The complex continues to watch Russian offensives in Ukraine and the likely negative impact on spring planting.

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