Ag markets proved generally weak Thursday night

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Corn is still suffering from talk of eliminating the ethanol mandate. Corn joined the general grain/soy decline suffered Thursday, due in part to news that several Senators had introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate the U.S. ethanol mandate. The technical failure at 40-day moving average resistance added to the pressure. March corn futures dipped 2.5 cents to $4.3175/bushel early Friday morning, while May lost 2.5 cents to $4.40.

Concerns about potential Chinese actions also depressed sank soybeans last night. The soy complex seemed to run out of gas at a pivotal chart point yesterday, which prompted active selling. The fact that nearby bean futures violated short-term moving average support probably exaggerated the move. Traders now worry that Chinese officials will soon begin cancelling soy purchases in a manner similar to lately rejected corn shipments. January soybeans fell 10.25 cents to $13.135/bushel Thursday night, while January soyoil dropped 0.42 cents to 39.57 cents/pound, and January soymeal slid $2.4 to $427.7/ton.

The wheat markets remained weak. Wheat futures followed corn and soybean prices lower overnight. Given recent increases in global production estimates and concurrent price declines, continued slippage isn’t very surprising. The expiring December contracts have proven particularly weak, thereby seeming to imply persistent losses in deferred futures as well. March CBOT wheat futures tumbled 3.75 cents to $6.30/bushel in pre-dawn Friday trading, while March KCBT wheat futures 3.25 cents to $6.75, and March MWE futures skidded 1.25 cents to $6.6275.

Bullish cash expectations are still supporting cattle futures this morning. Short-term cash market expectations seemingly turned more positive Thursday, which translated into rising Chicago prices despite a seasonal drop in beef values. Having another winter storm cross the Southern Plains today may also be boosting the market, since wintry weather cuts the performance of feedlot cattle. February cattle futures gained 0.17 cents to 133.27 cents/pound in early Friday trading, and April futures added 0.15 to 134.27. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle climbed 0.42 cents to 167.50 cents/pound, while March feeders surged 0.65 to 167.20.

Hog futures look vulnerable to fresh losses today. Hopes for renewed seasonal strength as country hog prices rose Wednesday and Thursday supported futures as well. However, normal pre-holiday pork weakness (due to tumbling ham prices) was seemingly greatly exaggerated by big losses in most other cuts Thursday. That news depressed CME values last night and seems likely to do so through early trading. February hog futures sagged 0.22 cents to 87.77 cents/pound around dawn Friday, while June edged down 0.22 to 99.57.

Cotton futures proved mixed Thursday night. Talk of tighter U.S. supplies (from the WASDE report) and reduced certificated ICE stocks, as well as rumors of a reduction of Chinese import tariffs have boosted cotton futures this week. The nearby March future continued its rise Thursday night, but deferred futures set back, possibly in response to pre-weekend profit-taking. March cotton futures inched up 0.18 cents to 83.24 cents/pound just after sunrise (EST) Friday, but July cotton slumped 0.22 cents to 81.85.

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