Market Analysis with Shawn Hackett

Shawn Hackett
Market to Market | Clip
Apr 21, 2023 |

Shawn Hackett discusses the commodity markets.


The uncertainty of a Black Sea grain deal left traders without answers. For the week, the nearby wheat contract lost 21 cents, while the May corn contract shed 3 cents. The strength of soy products helped keep support under the soy complex. The May soybean contract fell 17 cents, while the May meal contract subtracted $14 per ton. May cotton retreated $4.45 per hundredweight. Over in the dairy parlor May Class three milk futures dropped 35 cents. The livestock market was mixed as June cattle put on 80 cents. May feeders added $4.50. And the June lean hog contract shed 80 cents. In the currency markets, the US dollar index gained 28 ticks. May crude oil lost $4.63 per barrel. COMEX gold fell $30.10 per ounce. And the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index fell just over 18 points to settle at 576.50.

Yeager: Joining us now, our friend Shawn Hackett. Hey, Shawn.

Hackett: Hey, Paul. How are you? I was hoping to bring the warm weather and I did the opposite. I'm so sorry.

Yeager: We book you in January to make you remember how cold things are and here you come back and it's cold and miserable and wet. They need it to be more wet in wheat country. Some answers happened. Oklahoma still really dry. I have like five questions about wheat this week from viewers and many of them are all saying the same thing, it's terrible weather, we're not getting any of the spring in the field. Why is wheat falling like it is?

Hackett: I think you have to remember that the U.S. does not set the wheat price anymore. Russia sets the wheat price. And they have had 105 million metric ton crop that they have been unloading to China, unloading to the Middle East, to Turkey and keeping, undercutting the global price and a lot of Ukraine wheat that has not been able to get out of the ports has found its way into Europe and backing up. There's no way that the U.S. price can take off while the international price is staying depressed. Now, once that pressure comes off the U.S. price can then kind of feed into that and start generating better potential. But for right now we are stuck to the international price.

Yeager: And we had a lot of will they, won't they reach a deal with this Black Sea region. Is that really truly the big factor now?

Hackett: I don't really think it is. Russia is selling plenty of wheat on their own, we don't need Ukraine in or out. But remember, their next crop that they're about to harvest is 85ish million metric tons down from 105. They will not have the ability to sell wheat this aggressively in the next crop cycle. So, I think we're at max supply right now.

Yeager: Make me a little advice on what do I do for the next three to six months with that bit of intel?

Hackett: Well, it's saying to me that we're trading max supply coming out of Russia, which means we should be forming or carving a low here over the next 30 days from which a rally can then feed into the idea that 35-year lows in stocks to usage in exporter hands is what we'll have to trade later on in the season.

Yeager: Corn had poor export sales. We also have the Black Sea issue hanging over that. Is that accurate?

Hackett: I don't really think that the Black Sea is that important to corn. They're not really that big of a player. I think what's more important to corn is the fact that the safrinha corn crop in Brazil looks really good. We're getting some good moisture, getting that timely moisture and so if that crop is going to turn out to be a big one it's going to be another thing keeping the corn market from getting excited at a time that feed demand is under some pressure internationally.

Yeager: Old crop, do you hold any right now still?

Hackett: You know, if you want to have speculative bushels in the bin for what could happen that's fine. We're not a big believer in that. We think that those bushels should be going away or should have gone away long ago when the prices were good.

Yeager: New crop, you saw some customers this week in your time in Iowa. They were a little like uh, like many others, should I have planted? What is an unstable inconsistent planting season doing for us in corn on new crop?

Hackett: Well, I think overall, I think when it's all said and done we're going to lose some corn acres, not a lot, but some. We played the prevent plant game back in 2019 and what's this and it's always a guessing game. But for the most part I think planting is overall going to go okay. This cold snap and some rain that we've seen is not going to be long lasting. I think May we're going to get ourselves cranking again. So, as long as we do I don't think planting is going to be an issue that drives the corn market higher from here.

Yeager: How bullish are you on new crop? Give me a little -- do you have any support for a bullish view?

Hackett: Our long-term weather work, which is our specialty, suggests that we have a very negative PDO, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, surface temperatures lead to a dome in the Midwest. We went back and looked at when did we ever have a strong El Nino, which the models are supporting, and a negative PDO like this? Two years and both those years were very, very dry in the Central and Eastern Grain Belt. So, we're believing that we're going to have significant drought worries to re-excite that corn market as we get into June and July. So, we'd be looking, if I'm a livestock producer I'm looking for a buying opportunity for feed going into May.

Yeager: Okay. Bean wise, planting not an issue. Let's start with old crop. This is one that the products were helping, we've seen some crude oil strength, but meal fell off this week. Where -- we look stuck in the middle. Are we?

Hackett: We are stuck until June comes out and the EPA makes their final decision on what renewable diesel is going to look like. That preliminary report said no growth or very little growth over the next three years, which really took the bean oil market off and it has not rebounded since because remember, if we're going to crush a bunch of beans to make oil that means too much meal. If we're not, that means not enough meal. So, a lot is on what the EPA really comes up with. In the meantime, I just don't see how the soybean market is going to be able to get itself off the tarmac until we get that answer. Now, if they surprise and they say renewable diesel mandates are going to be stronger, we could get quite a rebound rally on a sell the rumor, buy the news. But, that's really going to determine what the demand is later in the year.

Yeager: So, on new crop then with what you're talking about, that's kind of stuck in the middle of those two and the speculation comes out in the summer about a crop. What do you see of a range? $12.85 is what we finished on here with November beans Friday.

Hackett: To me it looks like we have another rung down in soybeans. I'm thinking $12.25ish, low $12 on the new crop. I think that is where we would adequately address all of these risks until we get answers on the planting season and then an answer on the EPA. But I think that's where we're heading right now.

Yeager: Speaking of an answer, I have a question for you that came in via social media and we appreciate everybody who asked. We're going to go with Matt in Iowa who asked us on Facebook, he says, will the slow planting pace in the Dakotas and Minnesota lead to a rally in the grains? I saved this for the end of grains. Impacting any of the three we've talked about, Shawn?

Hackett: If you remember what happened in 2019 we had the hellacious rains that would never end and we didn't get the market to rally until early June. So, I don't see that being any kind of an issue that is going to make the grain markets rally over the next 30 days. Now, if we get into late May and June and we get some issues maybe that could impact the market. But for the most part it's really going to be a spring wheat market issue than corn. I don't think that's going to do anything for corn.

Yeager: Quickly on cotton. Tough week.

Hackett: Tough week. Economy still looks really, really bad. We got some negative numbers. The Fed is coming out with their meeting. Rains coming into Texas that haven't seen a drop for a long time. The market just caved in and said, we're just not ready to do anything yet. And so that is just going to be an ongoing problem until or if we start worrying about weather.

Yeager: How about live cattle? Do you have any worries there?

Hackett: Lots of worries actually. We have marginally broke above the all-time high in the August contract. Usually when you do that you either spring forward or you fail to spring forward. We have just closed above and have stalled. The longer we stall the more likely we are to cave back in. We have speculators really, really long the market and today's cattle on feed report for the first time actually looked more on the bearish side than I've seen in quite some time with the placements considerably higher than the market was expecting. I'm very, very worried about a near-term break. And this impenetrable demand for beef I don't think is going to last.

Yeager: You don't think the demand is going to last?

Hackett: No.

Yeager: So, that's one set of that equation. And are you saying that because the consumer is going to pull back because of economics?

Hackett: Yeah, we've seen the dairy demand really fall off the cliff. We've seen the pork cutout just collapse. And we've seen others that we are seeing pull back. And as much as beef is revered as it is for me, there is a point whether it's 300 cutout or not, there's a point where we are going to see that demand pull back and I think it's sooner than later.

Yeager: In the live cattle situation, all this discussion about drought, expanding herds, people may be holding back. What do you see for feeders here?

Hackett: We are almost testing $240 level or $240 level on the August contract, which set the high in 2014. Once again, similar to the fats, I just think that's an area that the market is going to pull back on, especially if drought comes back into the equation as our weather is strongly suggesting at this point.

Yeager: Hog market has been tough. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel for a hog producer right now?

Hackett: There's a huge light at the end of the tunnel. We're still in the darkness from ASF in China. That is a big problem, round three of this, massive over supply in the near-term just pressing the prices down. But on the other side of this, we've been through this before, there will be very little supply later in the year. So, I think it's a good cop, bad cop market. But, we really, if we look at the December contract at 75, 76, cents, we think that's a great value in the marketplace if you're a physical buyer.

Yeager: Okay, so I'm sorry, did you give me a time table on when we get out of this tunnel?

Hackett: If we look at the last two times we've been through this I would say mid-summer onward is when China says, okay, it's time to rebuild the herd, we need supply for the end of the year, we need to get those supplies in from the U.S. and others, we're going to start buying aggressively for those deferred months.

Yeager: Okay. Let's go along with this, if China says that, what other market benefits besides hogs?

Hackett: Meat proteins in general are going to catch a bit whether it's beef protein, whether it's chicken, whether it's fish. Feed demand, remember that when you make all these piglets you need dry whey in the dairy parlor, we need more corn feed. So, a lot of things get very exciting later in the year because right now they don't need the corn feed because the hog herd has just been crushed by 10% to 15% and they're holding back. But I'm pretty excited about that story later on in the year.

Yeager: I'm excited to talk to you in Market Plus. Thank you, Shawn.

Hackett: Thank you, Paul.

Yeager: That will do it for now. We're going to pause the analysis and continue our discussion about these markets in our Market Plus segment. You can find both analysis and Plus on our website of These resources are free. We make it easy to never miss any of our offerings when field work season hits. We have three podcasts to keep you informed of the markets and the stories around agriculture with our MtoM podcast. Follow today to stay up to date. Next week, we look at how spring planting progress is shaping up with a report from the field. Thank you so much for watching. Have a great week.



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