Ag markets were generally mixed Monday morning

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Export inspections boosted corn futures Monday morning. News that Chinese imports of U.S. corn had jumped 108% from the comparable year-ago level seemingly supported the corn market to start this week’s trading. Futures were also helped by the weekly Export Inspections report, which stated the corn total above the forecast range. Markets could prove quite choppy due to low trading volume this week and next. March corn futures gained 1.0 cent to $4.3425/bushel in late Monday morning trading, while May edged up 0.75 cent to $4.4225.

Argentine rain forecasts seemingly sparked soy selling. The soy and product markets rose modestly to start the week, with Asian palm strength, a good Export Inspections result and a sales announcement boosting prices. However, talk that Argentine bean fields could get relief from current hot, dry conditions next week reportedly sparked a midmorning downturn. January soybeans sank 7.0 cents to $13.32/bushel shortly before lunchtime Monday, while January soyoil skidded 0.03 cents to 39.41 cents/pound, and January soymeal lost $1.2 to $445.4/ton.

The surplus wheat situation seemed to depress US prices. The wheat markets apparently continue suffering from the implications of huge global stockpiles and positive production prospects this winter. Diminished U.S. exports, as well as favorable Southern Plains conditions may also be undercutting prices. March CBOT wheat futures dipped 2.75 cent to $6.1075/bushel around midsession Monday, while March KCBT wheat futures tumbled 6.25 cents to $6.51, and MWE futures dropped 4.5 to $6.46.

The COF report supported cattle futures this morning. Last week’s late cash firmness seemingly set the stage for continued strength. Thus, the moderately bullish results of the monthly USDA Cattle on Feed report sparked follow-through gains today. November feedlot placements fell short of expectations, thereby implying persistently tight supplies through winter. February cattle futures rallied 0.30 cents to 134.20 cents/pound late Monday morning, while April futures climbed 0.45 cents to 134.95. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle futures sagged 0.22 cents to 166.75 cents/pound but March edged up 0.12 to 167.05.

CME hog prices seem caught between short and long-term traders. The hog/pork complex appears vulnerable to persistent short-term weakness, which, given the premiums built into futures, makes them look overvalued. On the other hand, if industry concerns about a supply shortfall are well founded, the premiums may be too small. February hog futures rose 0.07 cents to 86.32 cents/pound as the lunch hour loomed Monday, whereas June slid 0.07 to 100.42.

Legal news probably sparked the weekend cotton drop. A Federal judge refused last Friday to dismiss a suit alleging that Louis Dreyfus had squeezed the cotton market in mid-2011, which probably sent antsy traders to the exits. Given the fact that the latest commitments of traders report showed speculative buying had surged during the week prior, having the drop trigger a cascade of sell-stops wasn’t terribly surprising. March cotton dove 0.93 cents to 82.22 cents/pound just before midday (EST) Monday, while July cotton fell 0.76 cents to 82.13.

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