Grain & Oilseed Futures Plunge on USDA Reports

Cattle futures extended losses for a fourth-consecutive day, falling to fresh lows for the year.

The cattle market has been under pressure recently from a slump in beef prices and growing supplies of cattle ready for slaughter.

Analysts say cattle futures have lost technical support by falling through a number of indicators. August live cattle dropped 115 to $108, October fell 145 to $106, and August feeder cattle futures fell 35 to $141.

Hog futures were mixed. Front-month August contracts continued a recent correction higher, inching upward to catch up with the CME lean hog index. Later-month hog contracts fell. August lean hog futures rose 32 to 84.45, the October contract fell 27 to 67.97.

Corn and soybean futures fell on forecasts for another bumper U.S. harvest, extending a years-long glut that has hurt farmers’ incomes and helped pull down food prices. The USDA unexpectedly raised its estimate for this year’s soybean harvest to a potential record of nearly 4.4 billion bushels. The forecast for this year’s corn harvest, 14.2 billion bushels, would be closer than expected to last year’s record 15.2 billion-bushel haul. Crop prices and agricultural stocks fell sharply on the report. Traders knew farmers were shifting acreage to soybeans from corn and wheat this year after several seasons of low prices for those grains. But erratic weather had raised questions about yields from that vast soybean planting, as well as for the remaining corn and wheat crops.

September soybeans fell 32 ¼ to $9.34, while September corn fell to 15 to $3.57, September Chicago wheat dropped 19 to $4.40, and September KC wheat dropped 15 ½ to $4.48.

Cotton futures slipped on Thursday with the October contract dropping 256 to 69.26, and December falling 300 to 68.11.

Oil futures fell Thursday, pulling back after topping $50 a barrel as investors weighed evidence that the world stock overhang is finally falling against rising OPEC production.

September crude futures settled down 97 cents at $48.50 a barrel, Gasoline futures fell 1.72 cents to $1.60 a gallon, and Diesel futures were fell 2.2 cents to $1.63 a gallon.

Natural gas prices surged Thursday, extending a rally to a fourth day after data showed that stockpiles grew by less than expected last week, helping keep the natural gas glut in check.

September Natural gas gained 10.2 cents to $2.98.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index had its biggest one-day drop in almost three months on Thursday as investors fled riskier assets, with technology stocks leading the charge, in response to an increasingly aggressive exchange of threats between the United States and North Korea.  The Dow fell 204 to 21,844, the Nasdaq closed at 6,216, down 135, and the S&P 500 fell 35 to 2,438.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.