Ag markets were generally lower early Friday morning

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Corn futures were mixed to lower in early Friday morning trading after having fallen significantly on Thursday. Prices may be reacting to news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close Mississippi River locks 16-22 from central Iowa to northern Missouri today due to flooding. If shippers cannot barge grain to New Orleans, that essentially represents a reduction in export demand for Corn Belt product. May corn rose 0.5 cent to $6.45/bushel in early Friday morning activity, while December was unchanged at $5.4125.

The soybean complex was mostly lower Friday morning. As with corn, the weakness seemed to reflect diminished short-term export prospects resulting from lock closures on the Mississippi River. Some traders may also be taking a pragmatic approach to the market; that is, they may be liquidating longs prior to the weekend, since soybean prices have recently posted their best two-week performance since last September and may be due for a short-term setback. May soybeans inched 0.5 cent lower to $14.30/bushel late early Friday morning, while May soyoil dropped 0.18 cents to 49.48 cents/pound, and May soybean meal rose $0.5 to $411.5/ton.

News of Mississippi lock closures may also have weighed upon wheat futures Thursday night, but long liquidation may also be playing a major role in the setback. That is, bulls have almost surely been disappointed by wheat futures recent inability to break out above chart resistance in response to bad weather news. May CBOT wheat futures slid 3.5 cents to $6.9925/bushel in pre-dawn Friday trading, while May KCBT wheat dropped 4.75 cents to $7.39 and May MGE futures were unchanged at $8.1775.

Cattle futures were relatively weak Thursday and again overnight. The most obvious cause of that slippage was the ongoing slide in wholesale prices, since those losses imply weak consumer demand at a time of year when it historically proves quite strong. In addition, CME traders have probably come to expect the bulk of this cash trading this week will be done around the low quotes posted Monday. June cattle skidded 0.17 cents to 121.20 cents/pound in early Friday morning activity while December fell 0.42 cents to 126.55. May feeder cattle futures sank 0.65 cents to 139.40 cents/pound and August dropped 0.60 cents to 146.57.

Lean hog futures gave back their modest Thursday gains in early Friday electronic trading. Firm cash prices in the western Corn Belt and a moderate rise in pork cutout probably boosted the market yesterday, whereas pessimism about the short-term cattle may have weighed upon the market once again. May hog futures slipped 0.10 cents to 87.85 cents/pound in the early morning hours of Friday morning, while the June contract lost 0.27 cents to 90.32.

News that U.S. cotton exports last were quite strong only seemed to limit the losses suffered by that market Thursday. Declining equity indexes and news that Chinese officials plan to begin selling high quality cotton out of their massive stockpiles starting today depressed cotton futures at that time. Actually, it would not be terribly surprising if the market bounced back somewhat in the wake of recent losses. May cotton edged 0.02 cents higher to 83.50 cents/pound early Friday morning, while December climbed 0.21 cents to 85.29.

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