Short covering reportedly boosted corn futures on Monday’s close. Corn prices fluctuated at slightly higher levels in early-week trading, with the weekly USDA Export Inspections report seeming to provide only modest support. However, widespread short-covering ahead of tomorrow’s monthly USDA reports appeared to boost the market as the close loomed. March corn futures rallied 3.75 cents to $4.38/bushel late Monday afternoon, and May added 3.75 to $4.465.

Soybeans remained strong Monday. Talk of robust export demand seemingly overruled bearish South American soybean production prospects to start this week. Moreover, the weekly Export Inspections figure easily topped forecasts. After seeming to stall around midsession, the bean and meal contracts also seemed to benefit from active short covering ahead of Tuesday’s USDA reports. January soybeans soared 18.25 cents to $13.4375/bushel at their Monday settlement, while January soyoil sank 0.27 cents to 40.22 cents/pound, and January soymeal climbed $11.3 to $438.7/ton.

Wheat futures ended mixed Monday afternoon. Concern about winter damage reportedly supported the wheat markets Sunday night, but prices turned mixed as Monday passed. The strong result on the Export Inspections report seemingly did little to boost prices. Again, traders were probably reducing their holdings ahead of tomorrow’s monthly USDA reports. March CBOT wheat futures settled 0.5 cent lower at $6.505/bushel in late Monday action, while March KCBT wheat futures inched up 0.5 cent to $6.96, and March MWE futures dropped 4.25 to $6.7675.

Rebounding beef prices probably supported cattle futures Monday. After plunging Thursday, cattle futures stabilized last Friday despite cash weakness and a late drop in beef values. However, rebounding wholesale prices seemed to support the CME market to start this week. The prospect of persistent seasonal supply tightness probably undergirded the market as well. February cattle futures closed up 0.20 cents at 133.35 cents/pound Monday afternoon, while the April contract ran up 0.32 to 134.02. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle advanced 0.67 cents to 165.15 cents/pound, while March feeders surged 0.72 to 165.40.

Friday’s afternoon reports probably sparked Monday’s hog gains. After trading weakly much of last week, firming cash and wholesale prices apparently supported CME futures Friday afternoon. Surprising strength in late reports apparently boosted the Chicago market today, with weak midday pork reports seemingly doing little to discourage buying. February hog futures jumped 0.85 cents to 89.85 cents/pound in late Monday trading, while June leapt 0.87 to 100.57.