Ag markets remained mostly higher around midsession Friday

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Corn futures were mixed to higher Friday morning. The weekly USDA Export Sales report seemed bullish for the yellow grain market. However, nearby corn futures rose only marginally in late-morning trading, apparently due to concerns about Chinese demand after recent GMO-related shipment rejections are still a big factor. March corn futures edged up 0.75 cent to $4.27/bushel around midsession Friday, while May gained 0.75 cent to $4.3525.

The Export Sales data boosted the soy complex. The results of the weekly export report seemed quite supportive of the soy and product markets, although neither the bean nor meal figures were particularly outstanding. However, oil sales jumped to 83,900 tonnes, thereby quintupling the largest pre-report forecast. And yet, oil prices were comparatively weak around midsession. January soybeans bounced 2.75 cents to $13.215/bushel just before lunchtime Friday, while January soyoil rose 0.01 cent to 38.88 cents/pound, and January soymeal added $0.8 to $441.8/ton.


The wheat markets turned lower once again. Improved prospects for South American wheat are threatening to exacerbate the current global wheat surplus. Moreover, U.S. winter wheat fields are in good shape and well-protected from the cold at this juncture. Thus, the dollar rebound exerted fresh downward pressure on golden grain prices. March CBOT wheat futures slipped 2.25 cents to $6.0375/bushel by late Friday morning, while March KCBT wheat futures slid 5.0 cents to $6.395, and MWE futures dipped 4.75 to $6.335.


Cash gains sent cattle futures higher Friday morning. Although traders had apparently been expecting cash firmness today, the actual $2-$3/cwt gains posted by the Southern Plains markets this morning probably exceeded their expectations. Moreover, the CME response seemingly represents a breakout above major trendline resistance in place since mid-October. February cattle futures soared 1.02 cents to 135.17 cents/pound as the lunch hour loomed Friday, while April futures climbed 0.67 to 135.65. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle futures surged 0.92 cents to 167.52 cents/pound, and March zoomed up 1.10 to 168.30.


The cattle surge seemingly pulled hogs higher as well. The prospect of a first-quarter cattle rally probably encouraged bullish hog traders looking for early-2014 strength in the swine/pork complex as well. However, the midday cash and wholesale reports had a decidedly negative tone, which bodes rather ill for afternoon trading. On the other hand, with the quarterly USDA Hogs & Pigs report set for release at 2:00 PM CST, traders are unlikely to trade aggressively from this point. February hog futures ran up 0.40 cents to 85.70 cents/pound in late Friday morning action, and June rose 0.10 to 100.20.

Cotton futures surged in apparent response to Chinese news. Chinese officials announced overnight that they are abandoning their long-standing cotton stockpiling program, which seemed to spark a breakout to the upside. Actually, the announcement might be viewed favorably by both bulls and bears, but bulls are seemingly winning this round. The rise seems doubly impressive in light of the mediocre result on the Export Sales report. March cotton leapt 1.28 cents to 84.17 cents/pound shortly before noon (EST) Friday, while July cotton jumped 1.10 cents to 83.72.

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