News & Media

Market Briefs | March 20, 2024

The corn markets continue to trade flat due to a lack of new demand updates and a stronger dollar. Brazil has surpassed the U.S. as China’s primary corn supplier, hindering price growth. May24 faces near-term resistance at the 50-day moving average of $4.44, with support at last week’s low of $4.31. Dec24 corn saw a rebound above its 50-day MA of $4.71. In the USDA’s March WASDE, U.S. corn ending stocks remained unchanged at 2.172 billion, with the average farm price slipping to $4.75 per bushel. Global ending stocks for 2023/24 are forecasted to increase to 319.6 million metric tons (mmt) from 301.6 mmt, slightly below expectations and down 2.4 million metric tons from the February 2024 report.

Ahead of next week’s Prospective Plantings report from USDA, short coverings are playing a significant role in the soybean market. May24 has support at $11.75 and resistance at last week’s high of $12.17. A rally and close above the May futures’ 50-day MA could trigger further short-covering. Nov24 beans are well-supported above their $11.73 50-day MA. However, nearby prices are expected to encounter resistance due to the rapid export pace of Brazilian soybeans following the country’s harvest season over the next few months. U.S. soybean ending stocks remain unchanged at 315 million in the March WASDE, with the average farm price holding steady at $12.65 per bushel. Global ending stocks for 2023/24 are projected to rise to 114.3 million metric tons from 102.2 million metric tons in 2022/23, slightly below expectations and down 1.7 million metric tons from the February 2024 report.

Wheat prices have taken a breather following a recent rally triggered by Russian attacks on Ukrainian grain infrastructure. May24 Chicago faces resistance at last week’s high of $5.56, while support has been bolstered by the EU’s decision to impose $104/mt tariffs on grain imports from Russia and Belarus. Factors such as a stronger dollar, profit taking, and ample Black Sea supplies continue to cast a shadow over the wheat market. U.S. wheat ending stocks increased by 15 million bushels to 673 million due to a decline in exports, with the average farm price decreasing by $0.05 to $7.15 per bushel. Global stocks are forecasted to decrease to 258.8 million metric tons, down from 271 million metric tons a year ago, with minimal change from February 2024.

Rice futures are best described as a tale of two markets right now. Old-crop futures have been supported by relatively high Asian rice prices and the continued export ban from India. The export market has been less active recently, though, with weekly sales coming in at a disappointing 43,800 metric tons. Shipments of 89,600 metric tons were more encouraging. Old-crop May futures clearly put in a top on Feb. 12. Bulls continue to challenge resistance at $18, but so far, the market has failed to close above that level. The market has support beginning around $17.50 after closing below previous support at $17.77 early in the week. New-crop September, on the other hand, is attempting to confirm that a bottom has been put in. The market is consolidating below resistance near $14.60 and needs to close above that level to retrace the big losses seen in February. Traders are expecting to see another big rice crop this year and are looking forward to the first survey-based report on March 28.

Old-crop cotton futures have topped and are now trending lower. The May contract high of 103.80 cents will likely prove to be very tough resistance if bulls could get another rally started. Longer-term support is found near 90 cents. Weekly 2023/24 export inspections were disappointing at 85,800 bales, but new crop sales of 112,700 bales were more encouraging. The monthly supply/demand report was somewhat positive, carving another 300,000 bales off last year’s crop estimate, with an equal amount subtracted from ending stocks. That leaves the ending stocks estimate at 2.5 million bales. The average on-farm price was unchanged at 77 cents. New crop December futures are consolidating in a mostly sideways pattern between support at 81.75 cents and resistance at 85 cents. A lot has happened in the markets since the NCC survey in January, and traders are expecting to see the planting intentions report come in above that estimate of 9.8 million acres.

Livestock, Poultry and Dairy
In the March WASDE, the total red meat and poultry production forecasts were raised, with forecasts for higher beef, pork, and broiler production more that offsetting a projected decrease in turkey production. Lower feed costs are expected to support higher production later this year. Projected cattle and hog prices were raised based on recent prices and firm demand.

The 2024 milk production forecast was lowered due to a smaller herd and slower growth in output per cow. The all milk price was projected higher at $21.25/cwt.