Commercials Push Short Live Cattle Positions Higher–CFTC COT

Commercials stayed on their stair-step increase for live cattle net short positions during the week ending March 15, with 78,784 net short contracts, up 13,441, or 17%,

In its commitment of traders report issued Friday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission

said there were 49,609 long positions and 128,393 short positions. Long positions were down 3,332 and there were 10,109 new short positions.

Commercial short positions have been creating new highs in recent weeks. Last week, for the period ending March 8, the net shorts were 65,343. Commercials are firms that handle cattle at some point

Managed Money Net Longs

Managed money, the large speculative firms, showed 62,591 longs and 24,081 shorts, a net long of 38,510. This was up 12,824, or 33% over the net long of 25,686 of the week ending March 8.

Swap dealers held 63,438 long positions and 2,806 shorts positions, a net long of 60,632. This was a reduction of 395 long positions, or about 0.65% from last week. Swap dealers reduced long positions by 500 and short positions by 105.

The weekly commitment of traders report shows trader positions in futures markets. A net-long position indicates more traders are betting on higher prices, while a net-short position means more are betting futures will decline.

The CME said open interest in the live cattle contract was 292,575. Commercial longs accounted for 17% of that figure, while shorts registered 43.9. Long managed money contracts were 67% while shorts were 8.2. Swaps dealer longs accounted for 21.7% and swaps shorts only 1.0%.

Corn COT

Commercials had 340,444 long positions and 489,115, short positions in corn, a net short of 148,671. Longs dumped 4,110 positions while shorts add 19,950. Open interest was 1,349,275, with shorts holding  36.3% and longs 25.2%.

Corn managed money positions were at 151.873 for longs and 350, 131 shorts, a net short position of 198,258. Shorts held 25.9% of open interest and longs 11.3%. Longs added 11,831 positions while shorts disposed of 26,112 positions.

The USDA will release its prospective plantings report on March 31. At least two industry forecasts are indicating a year-over-year increase in acreage  for corn.  Informa forecasts a rise of 1.5 million acres. The report predicts plantings will increase in all the major states. But, according to DTN, the forecast says the Western Corn Belt is likely to plan 800,000 more acres while the Eastern Corn Belt is forecast to plant 350,000 more acres.

Allendale Inc. says U.S. farmers will expand their plantings of corn by nearly 3 percent in 2016 while scaling back slightly on soybeans. That’s according to a survey of growers released by the Illinois-based research and brokerage firm.

Allendale’s survey of farmers in 25 U.S. states said plantings of corn would increase to 90.431 million acres from 87.999 million in 2015, with soybean acreage dipping to 82.575 million from 82.650 million.

Cash Cattle

Friday’s cattle on feed report showed that placements of cattle and calves in feedlots in February at 10% above 2015. The USDA put the figure at 1.71 million, slightly above industry estimates of about 8% in a poll compiled by Reuters.

The higher placement figure will weigh on beef cash and futures prices. Early futures trading indicated lower prices on both live and feeder cattle.

Light-to-moderate trade volume surfaced on Friday with short-bought packers once again forced to reach toward higher asking prices. Northern dressed sales ranged from $223 to $225, $3 to $5 higher than the previous week (mostly $223).

Cash cattle trade traded $139 to $141 on Friday, and a few dressed sales were from $222 to $225. Choice boxed beef prices were $2.83 cents lower on the day, but up $7.76 Friday to Friday. Select boxes lost 64 cents, but gained $7.21 from a week earlier. WTD slaughter including Saturday estimates was 545,000 head, up 9,000 head from last week, and 25,000 head larger than the same week in 2015.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for 3/17 was up 72 cents to $162.24.