Wheat Futures Rise as Traders Focus on Supply
Wheat for May delivery rose 5.3% to $5.35 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday, with traders shifting their focus back to market fundamentals. Corn for May delivery rose 3.1% to $3.45 1/2 a bushel. Soybeans for May delivery rose 2.2% to $8.43 1/4 a bushel.
Dry weather in Eastern Europe excited traders, who are hoping for limited supplies that would open the door for U.S. wheat overseas. After days of volatile sessions spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, the shift in the market's focus was a welcome respite. "The fundamentals are bubbling back to the top," says Don Roose of U.S. Commodities.
Olive Garden's Owner Reports Sales Plunge as Coronavirus Spreads
The coronavirus pandemic is slamming the U.S. casual-dining sector, as companies including Darden Restaurants Inc., the owner of Olive Garden and other chains, race to switch to takeout service.
Darden, the largest casual dining chain in the U.S. with eight brands and 1,800 restaurants, said Thursday that same-store sales across its restaurants plunged 20.6% for the week ending March 15, as more coronavirus cases appeared domestically. Sales in the Orlando, Fla.-based company's fine-dining business fell further.
STORIES OF INTEREST:
Darden Restaurants Exploring Delivery Options -- Market Talk
0944 ET - Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse and hasn't partnered with third-party delivery services, is exploring delivery options as efforts to contain the US coronavirus outbreak limit sales. "Everything's on the table," Chief Executive Gene Lee says on a call with investors. Assuming a 50% sales decline, the company expects $300M negative cash flow in 4Q, Finance Chief Rick Cardenas says. The company says it has been in contact with the US government to keep employees on payroll, though furloughs could also be an option. (email@example.com; @depsebastian)
Brazil Border Closure Doesn't Apply to Exports - Market Talk
15:48 ET - Brazil closed its borders Thursday to travellers from eight neighboring countries, including Argentina, Colombia and Peru, but the measure doesn't apply to the movement of goods, according to the country's official government gazette. The closure will last 15 days, and can be extended if events require, the gazette said. Brazil is the world's biggest producer and exporter of soybeans, coffee and sugar, and also a major exporter of other products including corn, beef and iron ore. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
U.K. Restaurant Sector's Losses are Food Retailers' Gains -- Market Talk
1403 GMT - U.K. food retailers are benefiting from the coronavirus pandemic and the governmental response to it, Shore Capital says. The British investment group notes that grocers will capitalize on the "20-25% of the nation's calorific intake switching from food and beverage to retail." This is largely the result of a recent change to public policy, with the move toward suppressing public contact profoundly affecting the U.K.'s food sector, the investment group points out. "Large supermarkets are set to gain considerable share from a worried nation," Shore says. (email@example.com)
Cattle Futures Close Limit-Up -- Market Talk
15:38 ET - Cattle futures on the CME finished trading limit-up, closing 3 cents per pound higher, or 3.5% higher, at 88.925 cents per pound. Hog futures also closed higher, up 2.8% at 69.15 cents per pound. For cattle, the markets traded higher ahead of the Cattle on Feed report released tomorrow, which is expected to show February cattle placements 8% lower than the same time last year, according to INTL FCStone. (firstname.lastname@example.org; @kirkmaltais)