World Markets Calmer After Russian Stepdown

The world is a little less tense this morning after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops to return to their bases after participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s border.\r\n   The move lessens the threat of an immediate full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, although Putin, in talks with reporters this morning, stressed that military intervention in Ukraine was still a legitimate, viable option to end what he called “an unconstitutional coup.”  He called such action a “last resort, however, and tensions reportedly remain high in the Crimea with NBC reporting that troops loyal to Russia firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukranian soldiers.\r\n   But the Russian military exercises were supposed to end anyway, so it was not clear if the return-to-base order was because of scheduling or if it was in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to speak with interim leaders of the embattle nation.\r\n   Some of the impetus to pull back from the brink of war may have come from a steep selloff of Russian stocks Monday, CNBC market analysts said.  Stocks plunged the most in five years, and while they are recovering somewhat in overnight trading, they have a ways to go. \r\n   News reports also say that financial aid is possible through the International Monetary Fund and the EU, but news reports say only one infusion of aid will not be enough – that it will take extended investment in the country to rebuild the economy, shattered by years of bad decisions by its leaders.\r\n   Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has threatened some sort of retaliatory action, and already the US has halted military cooperation and new business dealings with Russia, according to news reports.\r\n   European stock markets and US stock futures were encouraged by Russia’s return-to-base order and Putin’s calmer tone overnight.  European stocks are up, as are US stock futures.\r\n   Grain markets also appear to be breathing a little easier.  Corn and wheat are off a bit in overnight trading as some of the risk premium is removed.\r\n   Traders also may be feeling a little better after analysts studied the grain export situation in Ukraine and decided short-term export issues may not be as terrible as first feared.  AgResource was one such analytical firm who said export shipments from the region already were well ahead of last year, and that some demand could be shifted forward.\r\n   So far, no grain shipments have been affected by either the rioting that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych or the Russian troop presence in the Crimean peninsula, analysts said.\r\n   And many market analysts now say that Ukraine and Russia need the income from agricultural exports too much to risk interfering with regular trade, further calming commodity market fears and trimming the risk premium. \r\n   Soybeans are up overnight amid continued fears of tightening supplies, although export shipments in Monday’s report were disappointing to many, market analysts said.  There still have not been any sizeable export cancellations by China, and some calculate the USDA will either have to find more bushels from the fall harvest or estimate an impossibly low ending stocks number.\r\n   The extreme cold currently gripping the Central and Eastern US will stick around for a while, according to current forecast models, but a slow warm-up may be in store for the Plains, albeit to temperatures that still are below normal.  Precipitation generally will be limited to scattered events the next 10 days. \r\n   No cash cattle trading has been reported yet this week.  No packer bids were reported, but cattle owners were asking $153 to $154 per cwt on a live basis and $245 on a dressed basis for this week’s showlist cattle since boxed-beef prices continue to rise.\r\n   ADMIS said the discount built into the April futures implies a seasonal break in cash cattle is coming, but showlist numbers remain tight, which is price supportive.\r\n   The USDA reported its choice cutout value Monday at $229.12 per cwt, up $3.79, while the select cutout jumped $4.69 to $227.81.\r\n   The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Friday was $171.29, up $0.26 while the March futures contract closed Monday at $171.77, up $0.07.\r\n