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March 15th; The Ides of March. Known to many as the day Julius Caesar was assassinated by friend and foe alike in the Theatre of Pompey. It indeed marked the end or at least the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic as civil war was to erupt soon thereafter. The word Ides itself has a much less ominous connotation as it actually means mid-point as in the middle of the month, but for the ancient Romans signified a time of change. Now maybe I am stretching the allegory a bit too far here, but gauging from the performance in the grain/soy markets this week, could it be we are finally at a transition, or a time of change? After multiple weeks of losses, it would appear we are set to close higher. If we wrapped up the trading for the week right now, May corn would be 6-cents, May beans 5 -cents but the best performance reserved for wheat, with July futures currently 12-cents higher. Certainly not a runaway, let alone a complete toppling of the current rulers (bears), but as I have commented in other times, this is often the time of year when market begin to shift focus and concentrate less on existing supply and more on the risks associated with raising another summer crop. Maybe we can relabel it, the Ides of Ag.
It is interesting to point out that for the first time this year I have heard concerns, outside of farmer discussion, about the seemingly never-ending winter. While corn may be out of the ground in Texas, throughout the mid and upper part of the growing region, there is either snow still on the ground, or we are confronted with cooler than normal temperature and flooded fields. An early spring does not appear to be the cards this year. While that certainly does not assure that yields will not be excellent but raises a point of concern. I also read saw one of the first El Nino updates I have seen in some time as the NWS Climate Prediction Center issued the March update and state that there is an 80% chance the current El Nino will extend into the spring and 60% chance of extending into the summer. Again, there is nothing that would say this would translate to a poor weather scenario, but it does help shift the focus towards thinking about the risks of the summer weather. The Ides of the Weather? Granted, this may be little more than a one-week bump in prices, but I would suggest that the performance this week is marking a change in attitude for price action in the grain and soy trade and thankfully, the only stabbing that may have taken place was the metaphorical stab at the bear.
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