Corn futures began the week on a firm note. Wheat led the crop markets higher Sunday night due to fears of frost damage to large areas by the arctic temperatures. Talk of increased feed usage and slowing farmer sales also supported prices, despite huge domestic supplies and expectations for large South American crops during the coming weeks. Conversely, traders were disappointed by the results of the weekly Export Inspections report. March corn futures rose 1.75 cents to $4.2525/bushel in Monday morning action, while May added 1.75 cents to $4.335/bushel.

The Export Inspections report boosted soybeans and meal Monday. Recent news from South America has pointed toward huge soybean crops in Brazil and Argentina, thereby tending to depress prices. However, bean and meal prices bounced Sunday night in concert with wheat and corn. A very strong total 56.4 million bushels on the weekly Export Inspections report boosted prices even farther. However, Asian palm oil weakness continues dragging soyoil futures downward. March soybeans advanced 6.75 cents to $12.78/bushel just before midday Monday, while March soyoil fell 0.43 cents to 38.17 cents/pound, and March soymeal added $6.8 to $413.9/ton.

The wheat markets are reacting to frigid weather. Traders worry that U.S. wheat fields, especially those in the Southern Plains, are not well enough protected with snow to avoid widespread frost damage from the arctic conditions now dominating the Great Plains and Midwest. The Export Inspections essentially matched the week-prior total and had little impact. March CBOT wheat futures rallied 2.25 cents to $6.08/bushel late Monday morning, while March KCBT wheat futures surged 4.5 cents to $6.47, and March MWE futures lifted 3.75 to $6.3425.

Renewed cash and beef strength are encouraging cattle market bulls. Cash and wholesale gains sparked cattle futures gains late last week and seem likely to continue doing so this week. Arctic temperatures and their potential to reduce cattle slaughter and beef production are almost surely spurring bullish interest. February cattle futures rallied 0.35 cents to 136.65 cents/pound around midsession Monday, while April futures moved up 0.37 to 136.95. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures surged 0.55 cents to 168.65 cents/pound, and May edged up 0.22 to 169.92.

Cash and wholesale weakness are undercutting hog futures. After rallying last Thursday, CME hog futures turned downward in reaction to late-week cash and wholesale weakness. That seems to be the theme of trading early this week as well. February hogs sank 0.47 cents to 86.20 cents/pound by late Monday morning, while June sagged 0.27 to 100.72.