Commodities & Metals

Meat Prices Fall in February

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its preliminary report on February farm prices Monday afternoon. The all-products price index rose 3.1% month-over-month to 100, with the crop production index up two points and the livestock production index down five points. The February prices-received index is down seven points from February 2014. The index uses prices from 2011 as its base value (100).

The USDA noted February’s lower prices received for broilers, cattle, hogs and lettuce offset higher prices for eggs, tomatoes, oranges and hay. Prices paid by farmers in the month remained unchanged at 109, two points lower compared with December 2014.

According to a report earlier this week, hedge funds are taking long positions on some ag commodities and the spread is the largest since March of 2014. Bets on beef and hogs, however, remain tilted slightly to a bearish position.

The price farmers received for livestock is about 9.3% higher than it was a year ago and the price for meat animals is 5% higher. The February hog price is down $7.00 per hundredweight since December, and down $15.10 compared with February 2014. Beef prices are up $15 per hundredweight compared with the February 2014 price and down $5 compared with December 2014.

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Both corn and wheat prices remain significantly lower than they were a year ago, with year-over-year all-wheat prices down $0.61 a bushel at $5.89 and feed corn down $0.56 at $3.79 a bushel. Dry weather in the northern and central plains have pushed prices up recently however, from lows posted early in March.

Dairy prices are down 4.5% month-over-month and down 32% year-over-year. Market egg prices rose $0.34 per dozen compared with January prices to $1.41 a dozen. A dozen eggs costs 18 cents more than it did in February 2014, a 14.6% increase.

The prices farmers paid for feeder pigs fell $25 to $175 per hundredweight in February. Feeder cattle prices fell $12 per hundredweight to $219 in February.

Here is how some agriculture-related exchange traded funds were trading Monday:

The Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (NYSEMKT: MOO) traded up 1.1%, at $54.16 in a 52-week range of $49.21 to $56.32.

The PowerShares DB Agriculture fund (NYSEMKT: DBA) traded flat at $22.32, in a 52-week range of $22.00 to $29.41.

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