Soybeans gained 1.5-percent this week, with the July contract settling 20 cents higher on the week at $13.78 a bushel. Speculation that the Argentine farmer strike would add pressure to an already tight U.S. supply kept prices higher. Improving corn plantings in the U.S. Midwest, however, capped any additional gains in the corn market.
Farm-group leaders in Argentina are expected to remain on strike for at least another six days. This news came after the government failed to resume talks over an increase on export tax from 35 to 44-percent.
Soybean processing in Argentina declined 50-percent in March as farmers withheld supplies during a three-week strike. Demand for U.S. soybeans, typically shifts to South American this time of the year.
Favorable corn planting conditions in the Midwest are lowering the probability that farmers will be switching out of some corn acres into soybeans.
Corn fell by 6.4-percent this week, with the July contract settling 37 3/4 cents lower on the week at $5.91 a bushel. Corn plantings jumped 24-percent for the week ending May 11th and aggressive planting this week in U.S. Midwest sent corn lower.
The USDA's weekly crop progress report for the week ending May 11th pegged corn plantings at 51-percent planted from only 27-percent the prior week. Plantings were still well below the 77-percent 5 year average.
Corn crop yields typically decline unless the corn is planted before the middle of May. The reason has to do with the fact that plants need to pollinate before the arrival of the hot summer weather.
Wheat fell to a six-month low this week, with the July contract settling the week 30 cents lower at $7.75 1/2 a bushel. Speculation that importers are waiting until next months harvest before making new purchases sent wheat lower.
Rice tumbled 14.5-percent this week, with the July contract settling $2.91 lower on the week at $20.06 per hundredweight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly crop progress report on Monday showed U.S. rice plantings were 74-percent as of Sunday, up from 61-percent last week. Rice has climbed 66-percent in the past 7-months.
Cotton remained relatively unchanged on the week, with the July contract settling at 71.96 cents a pound. Planting delays combined with expectations that farmers will plant the fewest acres in 10-years was noted for this rally.
Coffee gained a modest 1-percent this week, with the July contract settling 144 points higher on the week at $1.38 a pound. Coffee traded in a tight range all week, on a lack of any fresh fundamental news.
Cocoa fell 2.5-percent this week, with the July contract settling $65 lower on the week at $2,676 a metric ton. Currency swings continue to rule trade amid a lack of fresh fundamental news.
Cocoa in West Africa, the world's largest producer, is traded in British pounds, so an increase in the value of the dollar versus the pound results in lower prices in the U.S.
Sugar fell 4.3-percent this week, with the July contract settling .48 cents lower on the week at 11.13 cents a pound. Brazil, the world's largest producer of sugar, is expected to harvest 498.1 million metric tons in the center south region for a gain of 16-percent from last year's crop. Any report that increases crop estimates typically sends a bearish tone into the market.
Orange juice fell 12-percent this week, with the July contract settling 13 cents lower on the week at $1.085 a pound. Weak demand and climbing estimates for this year's Florida crop, continues to weigh on orange juice.
Cattle futures closed mixed on the week, with August feeder cattle gaining 3-percent to settle at $113.075 per hundredweight.
Strong cash prices sent feeder cattle higher, with the June live cattle finishing the week nearly unchanged at $93.875 per hundredweight.
Packers slaughtered 515,000 head of cattle through Thursday this week, up from 500,000 a year earlier. As of the May 11, slaughters in 2008 were at 12.1 million, up from 11.9 million a year earlier, the USDA estimated.
Packers have filled almost all their meat orders from retailers for the U.S. Memorial Day holiday. After the holiday, demand typically falls.
Hogs trended lower this week, with July pork bellies settling 3-percent lower at $77.675 per hundredweight. The move down was attributed to the speculation that cash prices were topping out. July lean hogs settled the week 1-percent lower at $76.250 per hundredweight
U.S. exported 361.7 million pounds of pork in March, gaining 37-percent from a year earlier. U.S. packers slaughtered 1.65 million hogs through Thursday this week, up 7.3-percent from a year earlier, the USDA estimated.
Gold gained 1.6-percent this week, with the June contract settling $14.10 higher at $899.90 an ounce. Weakness in the U.S. dollar combined with climbing energy prices increases the appeal of precious metals as a hedge against inflation. Silver settled the week nearly unchanged, with the July contract gaining 5 cents at $16.96 an ounce.
Copper gained 2.6-percent this week, with the July contract gaining 10 cents on the week at $3.85 a pound. The earthquake in China has led to concerns over supply disruptions in the base metals amid rising demand.
July platinum gained 1.5-percent this week settling at $2,132 an ounce and June palladium gained 2.1-percent this week settling at $453.30 an ounce.
Crude oil closed nearly unchanged this week, with the June contract settling 33 cents higher at $126.29 an ounce. Smaller than expected build in U.S. crude oil inventories helped push crude slightly higher on the week.
The US EIA reported that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 200,000 barrels in the week ending May 9. The build in inventories was less than analysts' expectations of a gain of 2.25 million barrels.
Heating oil closed 1.6-percent higher this week, with the June contract settling 6 cents higher at $3.70 a gallon. Strong demand and inventories continues to push distillates higher.
Stockpiles of U.S. distillates in the week ended May 2 were pegged at 2.6 percent below the five-year average, the Energy Department said May 7th. Diesel prices climbed to a record $4.39 a gallon on Tuesday. It was at $3.657 a month ago.