Ag marekts posted divergent moves Tuesday morning

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Improving South American forecasts are depressing corn futures. Reports that December Chinese imports of U.S. corn and distillers grains far exceeded year-ago rates probably supported CBOT prices to start the week. However, predictions for improved rainfall over Argentina’s main crop areas during the days ahead are apparently weighing upon the market. March corn slipped 0.75 cent to $4.2325/bushel by late Tuesday morning, while May lost 1.75 to $4.305/bushel.

The soy complex is also suffering from rainy Argentine forecasts. Argentina’s grain and soy fields didn’t get as much rain over the weekend as previously expected, but the latest forecasts apparently imply greater precipitation prospects during the days ahead. Thus, beans and meal turned sharply lower. In contrast, rising palm oil prices in Asia sparked a big bounce in CBOT soyoil futures. March soybeans plummeted 27.0 cents to $12.895/bushel around midsession Tuesday, while March soyoil jumped 0.49 cents to 38.23 cents/pound, and March soymeal plunged $14.4 to $420.1/ton.

The wheat markets were slightly higher by late Tuesday morning. Wheat futures began the week firmly despite concurrent corn and bean losses. That may have reflected talk of improved export business lately, as well as concerns about potential freeze damage from “Polar Vortex 2” next week. Conversely, the weekly Export Inspections report probably disappointed traders. March CBOT wheat futures edged up 2.5 cents to $5.66/bushel in pre-dawn Tuesday trading, while March KCBT wheat futures inched up 0.25 cent to $6.235, and March MWE futures were steady at $6.1775.

Spiking beef prices are boosting cattle futures once again. The cattle market lost its upward momentum late last week, which probably reflected trader suspicions that the wholesale market would soon peak. However, beef prices leapt again Monday, thereby suggesting packers will pay up for fed cattle again later this week. February cattle futures jumped 1.27 cents to 141.62 cents/pound in late Tuesday morning trading, while April futures soared 1.12 to 140.42. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures climbed 0.80 cents to 168.72 cents/pound, and May advanced 0.60 to 170.10.

Hog futures started the week on a mixed note. Concerns about sizeable short-term hog supplies and its premium to the CME index appear to be depressing the nearby February contract this morning. However, ideas that supplies will become much tighter when spring rolls around apparently boosted the spring-summer contract. February hogs skidded 0.25 cents to 85.92 cents/pound just before lunchtime Tuesday, whereas June added 0.10 to 101.67.

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