"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput


Monday, September 30, 2013

USDA Surprises Corn and Bean Markets

The USDA released one of those famous Grain Stocks reports this morning and it immediately sent the corn and bean markets into a royal tizzy.

Analysts were way off on their projections of both old crop corn stocks and soybean stocks. By that, they were well below the actual numbers that the USDA gave us.

Apparently, the analysts failed to understand that the best cure for high prices is high prices. The simple truth is that the US has lost some market share because of the stubbornly high prices for both corn and beans in front of what is expected to be a record corn crop and the 4th largest soybean crop in history. Many farmers are being ill served by some advisory firms who refuse to accept the fact that the psychology of buyers in the grain markets have changed from the last two years.

If that were not enough, S. American supplies of both corn and beans are abundant and with planting season kicking off down there this month, there is every reason to expect large intentions in the Southern Hemisphere. Obviously weather down that way will play a major role in overall production but early indications ( and common sense for that matter) indicate a desire to plant a large amount of acreage and take advantage of the relatively high prices that the board is still offering producers.

End users of grain and beans are not foolish and unless they need the grain right away, are obviously trying to wait for more plentiful supplies to flow into the pipeline as the combines begin to roll in a big way this week.

This surprisingly bearish news for corn and beans was tempered a bit by the Wheat news  which was mixed. Ending stockpiles came in BELOW the estimates but the current year crop production is expected to be slightly larger than estimates. That is leading to choppy trading in that market for the time being.

If that were not enough, the hog market got hit with a wicked curve ball from USDA with the Quarterly Snout Count in the form of a big bearish surprise.

Were it not for the stubbornly bullish sentiment in the hog market due to the PED virus, hogs would be much lower than they are trading in today's session.

I bring up these things to point out that the futures market is signaling lower corn and soybean prices and perhaps a peak in pork prices for the short term. This will eventually feed through the pipeline and impact FOOD prices DOWNWARDLY. In other words, both reports are not signaling any inflation from this sector for a while. (Beef is still a wildcard as supplies of cattle will be tight but the question is whether or not consumers are going to pay the kind of money for beef that will be required to keep prices elevated).

With crude oil weakening as the lackluster economy stifles demand for energy, both food and energy prices are seeing some downward price pressure. That undercuts the inflation argument considerably, especially with the stagnant job market contributing to stagnant wages.

We are seeing this reflected in gold this morning which ran up to $1350 overnight only to be met with a barrage of selling. Traders/investors are not going to chase gold prices higher unless they have clear evidence of rising prices across the economy. Right now, they are not getting that unless of course one looks at the result of that abomination known as Obamacare on the premiums of health insurance policies all across the land.

There is still dip buying occurring in the gold market but that in and of itself is insufficient to take the market strongly higher and KEEP IT THERE. Gold still needs a spark, a catalyst of some sort and right now it is hard to envision what that might be.

As usual, the hedge funds hold the fortunes of gold and silver in their hands. Their next move is anyone's guess. Further clouding the picture today is that it is both the end of the month and the end of the quarter and there is a large amount of positioning and book squaring occurring which is making reading price movements quite difficult.