Ag markets generally lower early Monday morning

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Weekend weather forecasts seemingly pointed to conditions more conducive to crop planting, especially next week. That news may be the reason corn futures are beginning this week on a weak note. The fact that bulls could not force the nearby May CBOT contract significantly above chart resistance associated with its 10-day moving to end last week may also have provoked technical selling. May corn fell 5.25 cents to $6.4675/bushel in early Monday morning trading, while December dropped 7.25 cents to $5.3975.

Chinese problems with the avian flu persisted over the weekend, which caused some in the industry to anticipate reduced demand for poultry, chicken production and demand for the soybean meal required to feed those animals. In addition, talk that the Chinese government will soon sell off a portion of its large stockpile of canola oil sent palm oil prices to four-month lows, which in turn undercut soybean oil values. Thus, it was not terribly surprising to see CBOT soy prices under pressure as well on Monday morning. May soybeans dipped 5.0 cents to $14.2325/bushel in pre-dawn Monday trading, while May soyoil dove 0.44 cents to 48.72 cents/pound, and May soybean meal was unchanged at $412.4/ton.

Forecasts for improved spring planting weather next week may have depressed wheat futures over the weekend. Moreover, the freezes experienced late last week were not as severe as had been previously anticipated, while those forecast for this week seem unlikely to do a great deal of damage to U.S. winter wheat at this juncture. May CBOT wheat futures slid 5.5 cents to $7.035/bushel early Monday morning, while May KCBT wheat lost 6.0 cents to $7.40 and May MGE futures skidded 2.75 cents to $8.2225.

Cattle futures moved lower in response to news of slipping cash prices last Friday. The afternoon Cattle on Feed report looked rather bearish for the CME opening later this morning, since March placements easily topped forecasts (106% versus 98.5% of year-ago). June cattle dipped 0.07 cents to 121.30 cents/pound late Friday afternoon, while December slid 0.37 cents to 126.60. May feeder cattle futures fell 0.85 cents to 139.20 cents/pound, and August sank 1.12 cents to 146.05.

Late Friday morning news of cash cattle weakness seemed to undercut CME lean hog futures as well. Contemporaneous cash hog and wholesale pork news was somewhat mixed, so hog traders probably had little reason to expect a quick reversal of the recent slide in the CME lean hog index. Until the cash equivalent price turns upward, bulls will have little reason to buy nearby futures to start this week. May hog futures closed 0.10 cents lower at 87.85 cents/pound Friday afternoon, while the June contract lost 0.40 cents to 90.20.

In contrast to the weekend losses suffered by the grain and soy complexes, cotton futures rose rather significantly Monday morning. Early morning news that Chinese cotton imports during early 2013 had declined moderately did not seem supportive, but given the massive holdings already acquired by Chinese government, those totals may have seemed impressive to market insiders. The concurrent advance by equity index futures may also have boosted the white fiber market. May cotton rallied 0.77 to 84.25 cents/pound in Monday morning electronic trading, while December climbed 1.01 cent to 86.18.

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