Category: Research

27 Jul 2021

Managing Today’s Market Risks through Short Dated Options with CME Group

It is no secret that commodity markets have been on fire over the past 12 months.   On today’s podcast we’ve brought on one of our real-life firefighters from RCM Ag – Jody Lawrence along with Tim Andriesen from the CME Group to provide us with some inside baseball knowledge of the current state of the agriculture markets and to discuss the real world application of the use of short dated options to potentially fight the current blaze of volatility surrounding agriculture markets.

As the director of Research for RCM Jody is no stranger to the podcast.  Tim, is the Managing Director of Agriculture products for the CME Group and is responsible for management of the company’s global agriculture commodities business – including grain, oilseed, livestock and dairy risk management products.

 

Find the full episode links for The Hedged Edge below:

23 Jul 2021

AG MARKET UPDATE: JULY 15 – 22

Corn made small gains early in the week only to fall short heading into the weekend as weakness continues to creep into the market with poor exports continuing and weather uncertainty. The hottest temperatures of the year for the plains and western corn belt are expected in the next few days with the only relief possibly coming past the 7 day forecast. As bad as things seem in the western corn belt, the eastern corn belt is having great weather, but will it be enough to offset those loses?

Brazil’s crop continues to get smaller, despite the USDA not making any major outlook changes, as they experience more freezing temperatures on their corn crop. China continues to sit on the sideline with no big purchases as they wait for lower prices before buying US corn. We know they will need to make purchases at some point but as we have seen in the past when there is no news from China prices tend to dip until they make a purchase so they will be quiet waiting for the right time to buy.

Via Barchart                          Soybeans had a rough Thursday as the extended forecast offered a chance of help.  We have to remember that extended, is just that – it’s NOT tomorrow – and just as help was added it can go back to hot and dry in one weather report. You’ll note in the chart below that beans have been trading mostly sideways since the start of May. This will probably continue unless some unforeseen news hits the markets or a major weather event/change in forecast happens. The next major report is the August 12th report which could be what finally gets us out of the range (whether to the upside or downside is TBD).

The bean oil market has added volatility to beans as well as the Biden administration’s silence on their direction for the bio fuel industry.  Their lack of action, one way or the other, is hurting beans and bean oil as producers remain with unanswered questions which leads to uneasiness (read volatility).

Via Barchart

Dow Jones

The Dow lost on the week (Thursday-Thursday) following a large selloff on Monday followed by 3 straight days of gains. The market was trading positively into the week’s end as well getting back over 35,000 in intraday. The Delta variant worries seem to be biggest fear in the market right now as it spread dangerously throughout under vaccinated areas of the country threatening the continued reopening.

Podcast

Check out our recent podcast with Dr. Greg Willoughby: We’re talking with Greg in the new episode about being a “plant doctor”, weather patterns, GMO & organic produce, crop history, technical advances, level 201 education on agronomy, the agronomy equation, Helena Agri, soil biology, American v European agriculture, Greg’s early background in livestock, and the advancement of native plants to modern produce.

https://rcmagservices.com/the-hedged-edge/

US Drought Monitor

The maps below show the current drought conditions in the US. The second map is last week’s so you can see how the areas that received rain improved or did not. The wild fires continue to rage in the west as smoke from them has carried all the way to Southeastern US.

Via Barchart.com

09 Jul 2021

AG MARKET UPDATE: JULY 1-8

The corn market fell thanks to the rain that was received in the Upper Midwest over the 4th of July weekend. As always when it rains in areas that need it the most, the market freaks out as if it is a crop making/saving rain. The reality is, although the rain was helpful, there are still significant drought conditions across most of the areas that received rain (see in the drought chart at the bottom). With this said, next week is forecasting rain across the western corn belt providing some more relief to those areas before returning to hot and dry after.

CONAB (Brazil’s USDA) updated their yield expectations this morning by cutting their corn crop by 3 million metric tons (120 million bushels). This change came before a freeze event they had recently which could lead to problems and another cut of their expected crop. The USDA will update their estimates of the South American crop next week in the report.

The weekly ethanol report was bullish as production was 2% ahead of pre-Covid 2019 levels. US drivers drove a record amount over the 4th of July weekend with indications that usage for the summer could be a new record. The USDA is expected to increase their estimates for corn used for ethanol coming up as their numbers are lagging the actual pace.

Via Barchart                        Soybeans, like corn, fell following the holiday weekend with huge losses on Tuesday to start the week. Weather remains the main focus of the markets as rains in the next week will help but forecasts have it followed by heat and dryness. Bean crop conditions this week were down 1% to 59% g/e. The soybean balance sheet does not have as much room for error as corn so any adverse soybean news will be bullish for the market. The long term up trend broke about 3 weeks ago but prices are still at a great level compared to what we were seeing this time last year. The report on Monday will help tell us what other news should be moving the market other than weather but headlines love to say it rained.

Via Barchart

Dow Jones

The Dow lost on the week after a tough Thursday in the markets. The market bounced back well off its lows on Thursday into the close however to keep some momentum. The markets have been volatile, but the big picture is important as we have traded in the range above 34,000 for most of the last 2 months. The delta variant has had many people worried and keeping an eye on the market for any indicator of how bad it could end up being for continued reopening around the world.

Lumber

Lumber prices have flattened out the last couple weeks after losing over half its value from the peak. Markets are hinting at this being the beginning of a rebalancing as the producers and suppliers feel out the supply and demand story.

Podcast

Check out our recent podcast with Dr. Greg Willoughby: We’re talking with Greg in the new episode about being a “plant doctor”, weather patterns, GMO & organic produce, crop history, technical advances, level 201 education on agronomy, the agronomy equation, Helena Agri, soil biology, American v European agriculture, Greg’s early background in livestock, and the advancement of native plants to modern produce.

https://rcmagservices.com/the-hedged-edge/

US Drought Monitor

The maps below show the current US drought conditions this week vs last week. As you can see the rain that freaked out some in the markets did not exactly fix the drought problems. The rain was helpful but will need more consistent sustained rain to help the crop in the coming months.

Via Barchart.com

 

 

21 Jun 2021

AG MARKET UPDATE: JUNE 11-18

Corn had a volatile week much like beans having a limit down day on Thursday then a strong recovery on Friday. Corn had had a choppy trade this week before Thursday but the collapse in soybeans and soybean oil brought corn down with it. The bearish news for corn was that it was expected to rain in the drought stricken upper Midwest. This rain is much needed and will help but more consistent rainfall over the coming weeks would be needed to help the crop more. The rain will likely pressure markets lower to start the week if forecasts were accurate. If it does not rain as much as predicted it could fuel the bulls to continue from Friday. The dip on Thursday allowed some bulls to get back in the market at an attractive area while the bullish news remains the same.

Via Barchart                          

Soybeans nosedived on Thursday as they took full advantage of the expanded limits and fell over $1. The pressure on beans has been coming from the soybean oil and crush markets as crush numbers have decreased and soybean oil prices have fallen rapidly. With US yield estimates coming in around 52 bpa the price levels from earlier in the year would be hard to get back to. South America had a good bean harvest so there is not as much stress on the supply side like there is for corn. If dryness continues into the summer and yields begin to take a hit we could see a rebound for the bulls. The trade over the next week and half going into the June planted acreage report will give us an idea of what to expect in the report at the end of the month.

Via Barchart

Dow Jones

The Dow suffered loses on the week as the Fed announced they would begin looking at raising rates to help combat inflation. Although they said the plan would be to not raise til 2023 the market seems to think that timeline will probably be moved up if inflation accelerates.

Lumber

Lumber prices have dipped recently but are still at very high levels historically. Check out our recent post about the lumber market and what all has been going on.

Podcast

Check out our recent podcast with Dr. Greg Willoughby: We’re talking with Greg in the new episode about being a “plant doctor”, weather patterns, GMO & organic produce, crop history, technical advances, level 201 education on agronomy, the agronomy equation, Helena Agri, soil biology, American v European agriculture, Greg’s early background in livestock, and the advancement of native plants to modern produce.

https://rcmagservices.com/the-hedged-edge/

US Drought Monitor

The map below shows current drought conditions and the continued problems in the upper Midwest. Drought conditions continue in the Midwest with some areas getting relief over the weekend. For reference the second chart below is this time last year.

Via Barchart.com

 

 

14 May 2021

Ag Market Update: May 7-14

Corn finally had a day with a major pullback as it tested the new expanded limits on Thursday. This move comes after a slightly bearish crop report along with a lackluster trade following it. After the impressive run to this point it makes sense why speculators would take profits and hedgers would begin to manage their risk for this year as we begin to get better picture from the planting starts data. For the bulls, much of Brazil’s safrinha crop will go another 10-14 days without rain continuing to stress the crop. This week the US’ corn crop was seen as being 67% planted with more progress being made thanks to favorable weather. How the week finishes will be important for the bulls and bears to keep momentum on their side. In this week’s USDA report the 21/22 US ending stocks came in at 1.507 billion bushels (estimates were around 1.36 billion) and world 21/22 ending stocks at 292.3 million metric tons. The USDA and WASDE think demand rationing is coming as it cut US exports and increased ending stocks despite a record export and shipping pace.

Via Barchart

 

 

Soybeans, despite the big losses suffered on Thursday, finished the week above where they were last week. Beans were down over 80 cents at one point during trading on Thursday before large end user demand rallied prices 30 cents of the lows to show some support. We knew that expanding the daily limits would allow for more volatility but that does not make what has happened this week any easier to get comfortable with. In this week’s USDA report the 21/22 US ending stocks came in at 140 million bushels, slightly above estimates, with world ending stocks coming in at 91.1 million metric tonnes. The 20/21 US bean stocks were 120 million bushels, by starting at 140 million bushels there is not much room for error to be adjusted down without being tight on ending stocks. To finish at these levels export cuts are expected to come in.

Via Barchart

Dow Jones

The Dow was down on the week along with other major averages as a correction has hit the market this week. The Nasdaq, S&P 500, and Russell 2000 were all down along with the DOW this week showing widespread market weakness and selling hitting all sectors.

Lumber

Check out our recent post about the lumber market and what all has been going on.

Podcast

Check out our recent podcast with Dr. Greg Willoughby: We’re talking with Greg in the new episode about being a “plant doctor”, weather patterns, GMO & organic produce, crop history, technical advances, level 201 education on agronomy, the agronomy equation, Helena Agri, soil biology, American v European agriculture, Greg’s early background in livestock, and the advancement of native plants to modern produce.

https://rcmagservices.com/the-hedged-edge/

Other News

A major bridge over the Mississippi River in Memphis, TN was shut down this week for traffic both over and under it as a major crack/break in the structure was discovered. This backed up hundreds of barges in the Mississippi with no alternate route until it reopened Friday morning.

The CDC announced this week that vaccinated Americans can go about most activities without having to wear a mask or social distance in a welcome announcement for people who have been wanting to get back out and about like normal times.

The Colonial Pipeline hack had many Americans scrambling desperately to fill up their cars and spare tanks, because if there is one thing Americans are great at it is over reacting. The hack caused a disruption in the distribution to many states but was opened back up after only a couple days but the shortages will persist for a little bit of time in some areas.

US Drought Monitor

The map below shows this week’s drought conditions across the US. Some areas have gotten rain this week that will help relieve some of the areas highlighted below.

Via Barchart.com

 

 

23 Apr 2021

Ag Markets Update: April 17 – 23

Off to the races? Corn was limit up Thursday as prices for May corn topped $6.50 for the first time since 2013 continuing its impressive weekly run. The May option expiration occurring Friday has traders scrambling to cover short call option positions by buying futures and positioning themselves for next week’s first notice day. As we have been seeing in the cash market for a while with improving basis, it seems the futures market is catching up and realizing the market needs corn and it needs it now. Any farmers with old crop remaining has the cards in their hands looking to get prices high enough for them to make any sales. The cold weather/snow across much of the country this week is not expected to cause many issues except delaying planting a little longer in some areas as we wait for soil temperatures to get back up. Brazil’s dry outlook has not changed and will continue to put stress on a crop that does not need anymore problems. Continue to monitor the dryness in South America as problems there will transition to gains in our new crop markets as the world will need the US to produce a large crop.

Via Barchart

 

Soybeans gained on the week as they followed corn for similar reasons. The South American weather issues will not effect the soybean market like corn but as we have seen good news for one has been good news for the other. The may option expiration came into play as beans saw a strong rise on Thursday even though they were not limit up. Exports this week were nothing to write home about but still within expectations and well ahead of the pace needed to meet USDA estimates. With world demand high, the US needs to have a great crop to meet it and not cause issues in the world pipeline. As volume begins to pick up in the November contract it will be important to have a plan for marketing your crop this year as volatility is always around.

Via Barchart

 

Cotton did not enjoy the rally the grains had this week as they continue to trail the other markets in price competitiveness. Weekly exports are expected to decline going forward, not from a lack of demand, but from a lack of supply left in the US, which should be seen as bullish despite lower export numbers appearing bearish. The big head scratcher is why cotton prices are lagging the grain market so much when prices need to be competitive just to get all the acres in the ground. With corn and soybeans taking their next leg up this week, December cotton equivalent price should be about $1.11 vs. the current $.84. What is needed to get to this level? We could see what is currently playing out in the grain markets on option expiration causing a big boost when the next one comes up, but cotton needs a boost to get it all in the ground.

Via Barchart

 

Dow Jones

The Dow had been trading fairly evenly on the week with some down and up days until Thursday’s losses following the Biden administration stating their plans to increase the capital gains tax to over 40% for high earners. A number that high will face headwinds from the house and senate and is unlikely to come to fruition but the Biden administration did campaign on raising those and a raise should be expected.

Lumber

Check out our recent post about the lumber market and what all has been going on.

 

US Drought Monitor

The map below shows what areas are currently experiencing drought conditions across the US. Not much changed from last week.

 

Weekly Prices

Via Barchart.com

 

01 Apr 2021

Ag Market Updates: March 27 – April 1

Watch our corn and grain experts talk through this new report in our podcast The Hedged Edge. Or you can continue on below and read our analysis on the corn, soybean, and wheat markets.

 

 

The USDA coming out with a bullish report? 2021 is due to have some crazy things happen after how 2020 went. The Prospective Plantings Report that came out this week pegged the US corn crop at 91.144 million acres when the average trade estimate was 93.208 million acres. The USDA lowered their numbers from the USDA Ag Forum earlier in the year that projected 92 million acres. Along with the acreage coming in below expectations, the Stocks report was lowered from the March 1 number of 7.952 billion bushels to 7.701 billion. So, what does all this mean? It means that an already tight world supply has to meet the needs of a world coming out of a year of lockdowns where demand is expected to ramp back up to pre-pandemic levels. The US crop is always important in the world supply but any major weather issues in the US with this acreage could cause major issues in the world supply while also boosting prices. These numbers could still change as farmers can always decide to plant more but until the summer report of actual acres planted these will be the numbers to go off of.

Via Barchart

 

Soybeans, like corn, had a bullish report with prospective plantings coming in at 87.600 million acres. The average trade estimate was 89.996 million acres and the USDA Ag Forum had estimated it at 90 million acres. This led to a limit-up day following the report as the demand for beans is expected to continue to be strong as the world reopens and the US will need to meet that demand as South America did not blow their growing season out of the water. As we have continued to see the problems with ASF in China that is the current cloud still over this market even with the report. Even with the limit up move you can see in the chart below that it came after a long losing streak to get it back in the higher side of the range of the last 2 months. Thursday beans gave back a good chunk of their gains following the report as the market digests the report and all other information in the market right now. If this acreage number is accurate for the year and the crop isn’t trend line or better then prices should continue to be strong and go up from here. If there is a great growing season and the ASF outbreak in China gets out of control it could put some pressure on this market.

Via Barchart

 

The report for wheat came out bearish but was pulled up after the report by corn and beans. All wheat acres came in at 46.358 million acres when the average trade estimate had it at 44.971 million acres and the USDA Ag Forum had it at 45 million acres. Wheat appears to have taken some of the 1.4 million acres from corn and soybean estimates. The stocks came in above estimates to pushing more bearish news into the market. It will be interesting to see if this weekend’s freeze for the winter wheat areas changes some minds on abandoning acres. As you can see from the chart below wheat has had a more volatile run but is still much higher than it was over last summer despite the last few weeks of losses.

Via Barchart

 

Dow Jones

The Dow gained on the week as markets calm down following the spike in interest rates as their rise has slowed. President Biden rolled out his plan for over $2 trillion in infrastructure improvements this week and still has more spending plans to go. With the money that has been pumped into the economy through stimulus and reopening continuing in the US, there are many questions ahead but one thing we know is that Biden plans to raise taxes to help pay for these plans which will be important to pay attention to.

 

Weekly Prices

Via Barchart.com

 

 

12 Feb 2021

Ag Market Updates: February 6 – 12

Corn lost on the week following dissapointing numbers in the February USDA WASDE Report. Despite the big losses on Tuesday and Wednesday following the report a modest bounce was seen Thursday to give the bulls a little sigh of relief. As we have seen with previous dips there has been buying after the dips that help support the market. The big surprise in the report was US corn ending stocks number being over 100 million bushels higher than trade expectations at 1.502 billion bushels. They did lower them from the January report of 1.552 BBU but not near as much as expected. The world carryout was was also bearish with the USDA raising world carryout to 286.53 million metric tonnes, a raise of 2.7 mmt, and well above trade estimates. The bullish news was that Chinese imoprt expectations increased by 256 million bushels but the US export total was only increased 50 million bushels. With this bearish news funds also began to offload some of their long positions adding fuel to the fire. You should also not expect any news to come out of China as they head into their Lunar New Year so buying from China will be slow. Parts of Argentina that have gotten needed rain may have received more help than expected on their crops as some predict it helped more than anticipated. The positive day on Thursday to stop the bleeding was important for the bulls but how the week ends will be important.


Via Barchart.com

 

Soybeans were lower this week as the bearish news in the report for corn moved triggered a broad based sell off at the Board of Trade. Beans took it on the chin Wednesday as fund selling led the way. Despite a neutral report on the beans side, when funds decide to take profit they are the market mover. New export offers from Brazil were part of drawback as they were 40 cents below the US market and that collapse brought the US to about even. The USDA report showed that the US cannot export any more than about 250 million bushels the rest of the marketing year before bins are empty. CONAB released supportive bean crop estimates on Thursday coming in just above 133 million metric tonnes. The tightness of world stocks is on every traders mind and likely what has caused the markets to jump around – While 100 million additional bushels is only 1% of the 10 billion bushels produced any and all changes to production are being watched. The volatility of the past few weeks is best displayed on the visual daily ranges in the chart below.


Via Barchart.com

 

Cotton once again saw a big week of gains as demand around the world continues. Exports were strong this week with Vietnam, Turkey and China being the biggest buyers. The National Cotton Council’s planted acreage estimates came out this week with the following:

The NCC sees Upland acreage down 4.9% Y-O-Y, at 11.3mm acres. Pima acreage is seen down 20.7%, to 161,000. Overall, this imputes a 5.2% decline to 11.5mm acres. (CottonGrower.com)

With only 4 trading days next week, On-Call sales basis the March contract, will have to be fixed (bought) by the Mills before Friday, ahead of First Notice Day on Monday, Feb 22. The loss of acres was expected with soybeans and corn being very attractive in price vs cotton currently. If cotton can continue its run up it may be able to gain some acres back but this recent run will need to continue. West Texas continues to be extremely dry and will need some moisture heading into the spring.

Via Barchart.com

 

Dow Jones
The Dow gained this week as supportive news from vaccines and the continued drop in Covid cases around the US. As many investors remain bullish looking at 2021 it is important to note that we still have a long way to get out of the storm that has been the last year.

Wheat
Wheat has been in a sideways trade the last few weeks and looks to continue. There was no big news in the report that caused any knee jerk reaction in the market as it followed beans and corn lower on the week.

Insurance
Remember that this month is important for revenue-based insurance averages so it will be important to keep an eye on the markets even if you do not plan on making any sales. As of the close on 2/11 the price for corn is $4.5141 and soybeans are $11.645.


Via Barchart.com

21 Jan 2021

Ag Markets Update: January USDA Report

In this monthly segment on The Hedged Edge, RCM Ag Services pros Jody Lawrence, Ron Lawson, Kevin Bost, and host Jeff Eizenberg come together to provide expert knowledge on important markets including cotton, meat, and grains following the USDA Report. Watch the whole episode below!

 

If you’d rather listen – click on the links below to find your preferred platform:

04 Dec 2020

Risk Management, Research Writing, and International Protein with Simon Quilty

International meat trade (including Kangaroo!), years of writing and thousands of subscribers, risk management consulting and more – today’s guest really is a jack of all (ag) trades. Simon Quilty, global meat trader and analyst with Global Agritrends is on today’s podcast to take a deeper dive into his risk management background (with tips for operations of all sizes), the background on how he became one of the world’s leading researchers on international protein markets, and more crazy stories that fit his entertaining personality.

Follow along with Simon at the Global Agritrends website.

From the episode: Man punches a kangaroo in the face to rescue his dog

Chapters:

00:00-01:13 = Intro

01:13-11:53 = World Traveler, Lobbyist / From trading the physical to exploring China’s economy

11:54-36:36 = Potential for Ag Markets / China’s 2 speed economy & Hog pressure concerns

36:37-43:10 = Favorites

 

Find the full episodes here:

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