Ag markets diverged as Tuesday morning passed

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Corn futures turned upward Tuesday morning. Concerns about Chinese demand after that country’s officials recently discovered several shipments of U.S. corn contaminated with an unapproved GMO strain have been weighing upon CBOT prices. However, technical and pragmatic factors seem to boosting yellow grain prices. March corn rose 3.5 cents to $4.28/bushel by late Tuesday morning, while May added 3.0 to $4.36.

Soybeans also defied industry concerns to move upward. Slumping palm oil prices are weighing upon soybean oil futures at this point. Moreover, traders are apparently concerned about the strength of Chinese demand and seemingly favorable South American production prospects. Nevertheless, soybeans turned higher Tuesday morning, thereby seeming to reflect vigorous global soy demand. January soybean futures gained 1.25 cents to $13.225/bushel around midsession Tuesday, while January soyoil declined 0.31 cents to 40.29 cents/pound, and January soymeal moved up $1.8 to $430.5/ton.

Weather worries apparently sparked wheat buying this morning. Talk of a looming Egyptian wheat tender, as well as fears of a significant U.S. winter wheat kill this weekend reportedly boosted the wheat markets Tuesday morning. The rise seems quite impressive when viewed within the context of the overnight announcement that Australia’s forthcoming wheat harvest could top prior estimates by 1.7 million tonnes. March CBOT wheat futures rallied 5.5 cents to $6.6725/bushel in late Tuesday morning action, while March KCBT wheat futures surged 5.5 cents to $7.1125, and March MWE futures climbed 4.5 to $7.07.

Cattle futures proved surprisingly weak Tuesday morning. Talk of frigid Great Plains weather later this week and the potential for a seasonal advance through early December have supported cattle futures lately. And yet, futures turned decidedly lower this morning despite a dearth of fresh news. Wire service reports cited fund selling, but we suspect talk of flat-weak wholesale action may also be undercutting prices. February cattle futures fell 0.30 cents to 133.97 cents/pound just before lunchtime Tuesday, while the April contract tumbled 0.25 cents to 134.75. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle dropped 0.22 cents to 165.12 cents/pound, and March feeders sagged 0.27 to 165.40.

Buzz concerning cash and wholesale prices may be weighing upon hog futures. The cash hog markets proved generally weak Monday, but spiking pork belly quotes boosted pork cutout. Although the premiums built into nearby hog futures very likely rendered them vulnerable to losses, we suspect a reversal of the belly decline and/or persistent cash weakness sparked today’s sharp drop in CME futures. February hog futures plunged 1.10 cents to 89.35 cents/pound late Tuesday morning, while June dove 0.97 to 99.77.

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