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Market Commentary from the Northern Ag Network:1/18/2019 1:15 PM
March K.C. wheat closed up 2 cents at $5.06 Friday and was up 1 1/2 cents on the week, not showing much change yet in the month of January. However, we did see the Mar/May K.C. wheat spread narrow to -9 1/2 cents Friday, the highest it has traded since early August. It is one more sign of possible support for K.C. wheat prices to see this example of front-month buying accompany rumors of possible wheat purchases for export (see DTN Senior Analyst Dana Mantini's Before The Bell comments). Unfortunately, we do not have USDA available to confirm the export news, but if the March K.C. contract could close above the 100-day average at $5.22, it would have a chance to attract noncommercial buying. Futures spreads also look supportive to Chicago and Minneapolis wheat prices and are the best demand indicators we have during the government shutdown. For cash HRW and HRS wheat prices, the trends remain sideways, while the trend is up for cash SRW wheat. DTN's National HRW index closed at $4.80 Thursday, closer to its December high and down 24 cents from the March futures contract. DTN's National SRW index closed at $4.93 Thursday, down from its highest price in three months, but staying well-supported.
March corn ended up 1 3/4 cents at $3.81 3/4 Friday, surviving Tuesday's 7 1/4 cent sell-off with a gain of 3 1/2 cents on the week. It is understandable for traders to be jumpy in week number four of the government shutdown while trade talks with China get closer to the March 1 deadline. As far as corn is concerned, however, the fundamental outlook is still mostly supportive for prices the next few months and U.S. exports should still be active. It is also helpful that the forecast for south-central Brazil remains hot and mostly dry the next seven days. Demand for ethanol remains a modest bearish concern for corn prices in early 2019, but so far, production is not far from expectations. Technically speaking, March corn futures are holding within their sideways range and did well to recover from Wednesday's selling. With four weeks of unreported export sales data locked away in a dark room and active weather concerns in South America, the trend in cash corn remains up. DTN's National Corn Index closed at $3.48 Thursday, near its highest price in seven months and 32 cents below the March contract. The March U.S. dollar index is up 0.28, getting a lift from January's rebounding stock market.
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