3 Big Things Today, March 22, 2021

Grains, Beans Lower Overnight; Speculators Raise Bullish Bets in Corn.

1. Grain, Bean Futures Lower in Overnight Trading

Wheat futures were lower in overnight trading, headed for a fourth consecutive loss, amid favorable weather in the U.S. southern Plains.

Rain is expected in much of southwestern Kansas and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles today and tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

The precipitation likely will giver overwintering hard-red winter wheat crops a boost.

Subsoil moisture at the beginning of last week was rated 59% adequate and 6% surplus, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Topsoil moisture was 62% adequate and 14% surplus, the USDA said.

The winter wheat crop in Kansas, the biggest producer of winter wheat, was 38% good or excellent, up from 36% a week earlier. The agency will update its crop progress statistics in the state today.

Corn futures also declined overnight even after China made substantial purchases from U.S. supplies last week.

Exporters reported sales of 3.88 million metric tons of U.S. corn to China last week, the USDA said in four separate daily reports starting Tuesday.

Still, rain in Argentina in recent days has given the South American country’s crop a much-needed shot of moisture, which is pressuring prices.

Wheat futures for May delivery fell 3¼¢ to $6.23¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade, while Kansas City futures lost 4¢ to $5.81½ a bushel.

Corn futures for May delivery were down 4¼¢ to $5.53½ a bushel.

Soybean futures for May delivery lost 1½¢ to $14.14¾ a bushel overnight. Soymeal fell $3.10 to $404.80 a short ton, and soy oil rose 0.21¢ to 54.08¢ a pound.

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2. Investors Raise Net-Longs in Corn, Curb Bullish Bean Bets

Money managers increased their net-long positions, or bets on higher prices, in corn futures to a multiyear high last week while reducing their bullish holdings in soybeans, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Investors held a net-360,786 corn futures contracts as of March 16, up from 338,982 contracts a week earlier, the CFTC said in a report.

Hedge funds and other large investors were more optimistic on corn after a buying spree in which China made large purchases from U.S. supplies last week.

Speculators, however, weren’t as positive on soybeans, reducing their net-long positions to 145,202 futures contracts last week.

That’s down from 146,538 contracts a week earlier, government data show.

In wheat, investors held a net-long position of 47,625 hard-red winter contracts as of last Tuesday, down from 47,625 contracts the previous week.

Investors held a net-long position of 12,171 soft-red winter wheat futures contracts on March 16, down from 22,276 contracts a week earlier, the CFTC said in its report.

Favorable weather in the U.S. southern Plains and eastern Midwest where winter wheat is overwintering has curbed enthusiasm in recent days.

The weekly Commitment of Traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows trader positions in futures markets.

The report provides positions held by commercial traders, or those using futures to hedge their physical assets; noncommercial traders, or money managers (also called large speculators); and nonreportables, or small speculators.

A net-long position indicates more traders are betting on higher prices, while a net-short position means more are betting futures will decline.

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3. Rain Falling in Southern Plains, Flooding Continues Along the Mississippi

Several storms are rolling through the southern Plains today bringing heavy rain, small hail and gusty winds to the region, according to the National Weather Service.

“Widespread rain is expected tonight, with the heaviest amounts along and east of US Highway 283,” the NWS said in a report early this morning. “Some of this rain will mix with or change to wet snow after midnight, with minor accumulations on grassy and elevated surfaces.”

Winds are expected to gust up to 45 mph at times into early Tuesday morning.

The thunderstorms will end on Tuesday but some light snow or rain is in the forecast for Wednesday, the agency said.

Flooding continues along parts of the Mississippi River along the Missouri-Illinois border due to recent heavy rainfall.

At Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the river rose to 37.6 feet as of Sunday evening, topping the flood stage of 32 feet. The Mississippi is expected to crest at 38.5 feet Tuesday and eventually fall below flood stage by the end of the week, the NWS said.

At Thebes, Missouri, the river was at 36.2 feet, just above flood stage of 33 feet. The river is expected to crest at 37.5 feet tomorrow morning and drop below flood levels early Friday.

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