Corn Prices Fall, But Cattle Prices Rally

From record highs to record lows, it has been a volatile two weeks in the commodities market.

Ideal growing conditions continue to lead the corn market lower. Earlier this week, the crop fell to its lowest level in four years before reversing Wednesday afternoon on news that key growing areas are expected to have below-normal rainfall in the next 10 days. Corn is still down more than 21% over the past 12 months, with the biggest hit coming in the most recent three months.

“With the market oversold, corn is likely getting closer to a point where consolidation could occur ahead of the August 12 USDA production report,” Bryce Knorr, Senior Market Analyst at Farm Futures Magazine, said in his weekly corn review.

Other crops have followed corn lower, with wheat futures down roughly 20% in that same 3 month time frame.

Natural gas is another commodity that continues to fall, although it’s still up roughly 2% over the past year. Following a remarkable climb during the depths of winter when the “polar vortex” seemed to be a weekly occurrence, futures have quickly erased those gains. Prices are down nearly 20% over the past few months, as below average temperatures during the summer are keeping a lid on demand for air-conditioning. Natural gas is closing in on an eight-month low.

The market for live cattle is a completely different story, as futures hit record highs this week on continued worries about the U.S. beef supply. Prices are up nearly 30% over the past year, although traders believe the commodity may be close to a near-term high.

“Cattle is trying to find a top with [Wednesday's] big reversal lower,” Lannie Cohen, president of Capitol Commodity Services, said. “There’s a potential it hit a top today if it closes lower.”

With ranchers continuing to struggle in their recovery from droughts over the past few years, the U.S. cattle herd hit its smallest level since 1951 earlier this year.