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Commodity Market Summary

May 1, 2008

Grains

Soybeans slid limit-down early in the session, with the July contract settling 43 cents lower at $12.71 a bushel. Speculation that Argentina, the world's third largest exporter, and farmers will come to a resolution on disputes over the export tax hike, sent soybeans lower.

Argentine farmers disrupted food shipments in March in protest of the governments increase on export tax from 35 to 44-percent. Any disruption of Argentina's exports would increase demand on tight U.S. supplies.

Soggy fields in the U.S. Midwest have prevented many farmers from getting the corn crop into the ground. Planting delays lower the probability of maximum yields. These delays have pushed corn just off its all-time high, with the July contract settling 5 cents higher at $6.17 1/4 a bushel.

Only 10-percent of the corn crop was planted in the top 18 producing states as of April 27, down from the five-year average of 35 percent, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said after the close of trading Monday.

Corn crop yields decline unless planted before the end of April in the southern Midwest. Plants need to pollinate before the arrival of hot summer weather.

Forecasts call for rain throughout the Midwest between now and Saturday. Weather this time of year in the Midwest can be very volatile with forecasts usually being met with skepticism.

Rice fell limit-down, for the fourth-straight session, before closing just off of that level, with the July contract settling $1.14 1/2 lower at $20.63 1/2 per hundredweight. An increase in U.S. rice plantings and slower exports continues to send rice lower.

Rice plantings in the U.S., the world's third-largest exporter, jumped to 44 percent as of April 27, up from 26 percent a week earlier, the USDA reported Monday.

The Thai government this week approved the release of 2.1 million tons of stockpiled rice to the domestic market. Thai's decision to ease restrictions have increased chatter that other countries of which have horded their crop, will start to release some as well.

Oats jumped over 5-percent, with the July contract settling 19 1/2 cents higher at $7.07 1/2 a bushel, July wheat settled 11 cents lower to $7.90 per bushel, July soy-meal settled $12.70 lower at $329.50 per short ton, and July soy-oil finished 198 points lower at 56.35 cents a pound.

Softs

Sugar fell to a 4-month low with the July contract settling 46 points lower at 11.35 cents a pound. Strength in the U.S. dollar and falling crude futures took sugar, which is used to produce ethanol, along for the ride.

Cotton settled nearly 3-percent lower with the July contract settling 192 points lower at 69.25 cents a pound. Spill-over weakness from falling grain prices, combined with a stronger U.S. dollar pushed cotton lower.

July cocoa settled $159 lower at $2,617 a metric ton, July coffee settled 620 points lower at $1.2925 a pound, and July orange juice settled 115 points lower at $118.30 cents a pound.

Meats

Hogs got slaughtered today with June lean hogs settling 237 points lower at 71.10 cents a pound. Monday's USDA report showing Russia will ban pork shipments from four U.S. slaughterhouses continues to weigh on the market. May pork bellies settled 95 points lower at 93.77 cents a pound.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's mid-day boxed-beef wire reported choice cuts fell $0.81 per hundredweight and select items were $0.36 per hundredweight higher.

Cattle got whacked as well with June live cattle settling 202 points lower at 91.45 cents a pound. Spill-over weakness from falling pigs sent cattle lower. August feeder cattle settled 147 points lower at 1087.27 cents.

Metals

Gold fell to a 4-month low today, with the June contract settling $14.20 at $850.90 an ounce. Better-than-expected U.S. manufacturing data helped the dollar rise on expectations that the fed is done cutting interest rates. Strength in the U.S. dollar reduces the appeal of gold as a hedge against inflation.

The dollar rose to a five-week high against the euro. The U.S. Dollar Index, which represents the value of the U.S. currency against six major counterparts, rose as much as 1.2 percent.

July silver settled 39 cents lower at $16.20 an ounce, July platinum settled $52.90 lower at $1,882.30 an ounce, June palladium settled $7.25 lower at $415.50 an ounce, and July copper settled 21 cents lower at $3.69 a pound.

Energy

Crude oil fell for the third-straight-session with the June contract settling 94 cents lower at $112.52 a barrel. A five-week high in the greenback versus the euro, and a larger than expected rise in crude oil inventories, sent crude futures lower on the session.

June natural gas futures settled 28.2 cents lower at $10.561 per million British thermal units, June reformulated gasoline settled 2.81 cents lower at $2.8782 a gallon, and June heating oil settled 4.3 cents lower at $3.1177 a gallon.

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