Ag markets look set to end the week on a mixed note

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Corn futures bounced from technical support Thursday night. As has often been the case lately, there was little fresh news concerning the corn outlook last night. Futures had dipped along with beans and wheat yesterday, but ended just above its 20-day moving average. It appears to be rebounding somewhat from that level as the week’s trading winds down. March corn rose 2.5 cents to $4.505/bushel early Friday morning, while May edged up 2.0 to $4.565.

Soybeans and meal are trying to hold above support. Soybeans continued their recent surge Thursday morning, but suffered a sharp reversal later in the day. Indeed, the technical action suggested a substantial decline may now be in the offing. Nevertheless, the nearby bean and meal contracts are trying to hold above support associated with their respective 10-day moving averages today. Oil futures are rising along with Asian palm prices. March soybeans crept up 0.5 cent to $13.94/bushel Thursday night, while March soyoil rallied 0.29 cents to 41.19 cents/pound, and March soymeal sank $1.9 to $462.1/ton.

The wheat markets proved surprisingly firm in early Friday action. News that the U.S. had been shut out of a big Egyptian tender weighed heavily upon the wheat markets Thursday, as did the concurrent breakdown in the bean complex. However, golden grain prices proved surprisingly strong overnight, with the March CBOT contract rising over five cents in early trading. One has to wonder if forecasts for record early-March lows in the central Illinois wheat region are exaggerating the technical bounce. March CBOT wheat futures advanced 5.75 cents to $5.88/bushel around dawn Friday, while March KCBT wheat futures gained 3.25 cents to $6.6225, but March MWE futures dipped 2.5 to $6.53.

Cattle futures proved quite mixed in overnight trading. Surging beef prices sparked similar gains in cash and nearby futures prices for fed cattle this week, but deferred cattle futures suffered a surprising setback Thursday afternoon. That divergence continued overnight, with traders apparently fearing that excessive short-term strength will damage the demand outlook for cattle and beef. April cattle futures slipped 0.10 to 144.35 as Friday dawned over Chicago, while August slumped 0.25 to 132.35. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle skidded 0.05 cents to 171.77 cents/pound, but May inched up 0.10 to 174.07.

Bulls remain in control of the hog pit. Ongoing cash and wholesale pork gains spurred hog futures sharply higher Thursday morning. A report that Russia will end its ban on U.S. pork on March 10 apparently added fuel to the fire, despite the fact that this news actually came out before the Sochi Olympics started. Futures are following through to the upside this morning. April hogs jumped 0.80 cents to 104.65 cents/pound early Friday morning, while June climbed 0.55 to 110.47.

Chinese news undercut cotton futures Thursday night. Financial market action, particularly equity market gains and U.S. dollar weakness, seemed to spark Thursday’s surprising cotton bounce, although it likely had a significant technical component as well. However, futures reversed to the downside last night in reaction to talk that Chinese officials will soon cut the asking price for fiber being sold out of state reserves. A surge in supplies of that low quality cotton could undercut markets rather badly. May cotton dove 1.21 cents to 86.60 cents/pound just after sunrise (EST) Friday, while December cotton fell 0.64 cents to 77.20.

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