Corn futures started the week on a soft note. Ongoing rains over parts of the Corn Belt and improved weather forecasts for the central U.S. seemed to weigh upon corn futures Monday. Traders reportedly expect late-week dryness to allow a big surge in plantings. Early losses were likely limited by soy and wheat firmness, as well as a favorable result on the weekly Export Inspections report. May corn slumped 2.5 cents to $4.9925/bushel at Monday’s close, while December lost 1.25 to $5.055.

Talk of South American imports depressed the soy complex. A quick start to Midwest corn plantings could boost bean prices, since that might limit the bean seedings that follow. But the latest export news also seemed to offer early support. However, news that a ship carrying South American beans had ported in New Orleans sparked talk of much more of the same during the coming weeks, which in turn undercut old crop prices. May soybeans plunged 9.5 cents to $14.6425/bushel late in Monday’s pit session, while May soyoil declined 0.14 cents to 41.43 cents/pound, and May soymeal dropped $4.8 to $474.3/ton.

The wheat markets posted moderate early-week gains. The latest weather forecasts appear less promising for western and southern Plains moisture when compared to those for the Midwest. That may explain the sizeable gains posted by the various wheat markets Sunday night and Monday. The Export Inspections report also seemed rather bullish. May CBOT wheat futures rallied 6.5 cents to $6.7625/bushel in late Monday trading, while May KCBT wheat futures added 5.75 cent to $7.395, and May MWE futures edged up 0.75 cents to $7.2225.

Cattle futures posted a modest Monday rebound. Although the CME cattle market suffered from concerns about cash weakness last week, the fact that prices did drop substantially late Friday afternoon probably accounts for the weakness seen this morning. However, traders may be thinking traditional early-month wholesale strength will halt the recent drop, especially with the expiring April futures still trading at a substantial discount to cash. June cattle futures inched up 0.12 cents to 134.92 cents/pound at their Monday settlement, while December advanced 0.80 to 139.65. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle bounced 0.32 cents to 178.85 cents/pound, and August gained 0.27 to 180.50.

Discounts built into hog futures probably attracted buying. The hog and pork industry apparently expects a substantial decline from the stunning price rally posted over the past six weeks. However, last week’s late losses pushed the various contracts substantially below the latest quote for the CME index. That difference probably spurred speculative buying today. June hog futures ended Monday having surged 1.12 cents to 121.67 cents/pound, while December climbed 1.55 to 90.65.