Ag markets traded widely Friday

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After quite firm lately, corn futures proved rather weak early Friday morning. Wire service sources suggested the late advance had strangled resurgent demand, while technicians are probably arguing that May futures are set to fail at pivotal chart resistance in the $7.20/bushel area. Numerous traders may also have been taking profits on long positions before the weekend. Conversely, late-session strength suggests prices will start next week on an upbeat. May corn ended the week having risen 0.5 cent to $717.0/bushel, while December rose 2.5 cents to $5.6175.

Soybean futures bounced moderately early Friday, which probably represented short-covering in the wake of sizeable losses suffered the previous three days. The ongoing South American harvest seemingly represents a danger to bullish positions, but the monthly NOPA Crush report apparently dragged prices downward, since it indicated February U.S. demand fell well short of expectations. Rebounding Asian palm oil markets apparently supported soybean oil prices. May soybeans fell 9.5 cent to $14.26/bushel late Friday afternoon, whereas May soyoil climbed 0.57 cents to 49.91 cents/pound, while May meal dropped $6.2 to $418.8/ton.

Wheat futures set back Friday morning in the wake of their recent rally. Given the fact that the benchmark May CBOT contract has rallied over 40 cents over the previous 10 days and topped its 10 and 20-day moving averages (MAs) in the process, a pause to refresh seemed in order. As in the corn pit, lots of bulls may been taking profits before the weekend. May CBOT wheat futures declined 0.75 cents to $7.23/bushel as trading wound down Friday, while May KCBT wheat slipped 1.0 cent to $7.5175, and May MGE futures fell 4.75 cents to $7.9625.

Growing pessimism about cash cattle trading this week was confirmed Friday morning, when Southern Plains activity commenced at 127.00 cents/pound. Cattle futures plunged soon thereafter. Having wholesale prices drop again on the late morning beef report did not help the situation. Ultimately, these losses suggest the spring outlook is much less promising than it looked previously. April cattle plummeted 2.42 cents to 125.77 cents/pound at the Friday afternoon settlement, while August dropped 1.85 cents to 122.52. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle dove 2.45 cents to 139.10 cents/pound, and August crashed 2.45 cents to 148.02.

Hog futures dropped in sympathy with the large losses in the cattle market Friday, but that might not have happened if the hog/pork situation were showing signs of strength. Actually, early swine market news was quite sketchy, but nothing suggested the recent slide in cash and wholesale value is ending. April hogs fell 1.20 cents to end the week at 79.67 cents/pound, while June dropped 1.20 cents to 89.32.

Cotton futures continued their recent price surge Friday, with the latest news from China sending the market sharply higher. Friday morning news that Chinese officials had boosted cotton import quotas for its domestic mills by 800,000 tonnes (3.67 million bales) almost surely powered the advance. However, suspicions that insiders had already heard, and reacted to, this news may have caused the late setback from the early high. Deferred futures turned downward, possibly due to ideas that the ongoing rally will boost cotton plantings this spring. May cotton leapt 1.64 cents to 92.50 cents/pound at its Friday close, whereas December slipped 0.03 cents to 88.51.

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