Ag may be rather quiet ahead of President's Day

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Corn futures bounced moderately Thursday night. There was no real news concerning the grain and soy complexes, with no significant change in short-term weather forecasts for the U.S. Southern Plains or South America. The fact that bears could not force a move to fresh lows Thursday after 10 straight days of losses very likely prompted widespread short covering in early morning trading. We can probably expect more of the same ahead of the Presidents Day holiday next Monday. March corn rose 5.0 cents to $6.9975/bushel overnight, while December gained 1.50 cents to $5.6525.

Soybean futures also rallied moderately in early Friday electronic trading. As in the corn market, no news was apparently good news for CBOT traders. We suspect the bean complex could also benefit from active short covering in the wake of the early-February breakdown. However, we should also point out that the decline has carried nearby futures below virtually every level of moving average support, which suggests rally attempts may be hard to sustain in the absence of supportive fundamental news. March beans climbed 4.50 cents to $14.225 in the early morning hours, while March soyoil edged 0.12 cents higher to 51.82 cents/pound, and March meal ascended $1.7 to $408.9/ton.

Wheat futures performed rather well in the wake of the supportive USDA Export Sales report Thursday and continued that rise early Friday morning. Some wire service reports suggested the prospect of Russian imports is supporting the global wheat market at this point, but we are just as inclined to credit short-covering for the late-week advance. dropped despite a supportive result on the export report. Conversely, the wheat markets also face considerable technical resistance at slightly higher levels. March CBOT wheat futures moved 6.75 cents higher, to $7.3875/bushel in pre-dawn trading, while March KCBT wheat surged 4.75 cents to $7.7975, and March MGE futures added 4.0 cents to $8.2325.

Cattle futures stabilized early Friday after their Thursday bounce. Prices dropped sharply in response to news of cash losses around 2.0 cents/pound on Tuesday and Wednesday, but staged a strong comeback from early lows. The market had reached oversold territory at that point, but traders may also be anticipating a seasonal rally from this point. That is, cattle and beef prices traditionally rise toward annual highs in the March-April period to a combination of annual supply lows and burgeoning spring demand. April cattle were unchanged at 129.77 cents/pound overnight, while August inched 0.05 cents lower to 126.00. March feeder cattle were also steady at 142.67 cents/pound; August feeders gained 0.27 cents to 156.50.

Hog futures rebounded slightly in early Friday action. They dropped sharply Thursday in response to poor cash and wholesale news. Technicians probably jumped upon the bearish bandwagon as well, since the breakdown seemed to mark the start of a follow-through drop from a bear flag formation. Cash prices proved quite weak again Thursday afternoon, but pork cutout was little changed. We tend to expect continued short-term weakness. April hogs rose 0.07 cents to 84.40 cents/pound in the early hours of Friday morning, while June inched 0.05 cents higher to 92.75.

Cotton futures gave back the bulk of their Thursday gains early Friday morning. The previous advance was powered by a supportive result on the weekly USDA Export Sales report, whereas the reversal probably reflected the latest news concerning deliverable stockpiles. Those jumped over 18,000 bales, or 8.9%, overnight, with over 72,000 reportedly awaiting review. This growth suggests recent talk of active commercial selling in the wake of the early-winter rally was well justified. March cotton slipped 0.14 cents to 80.88 cents/pound in early Friday morning action, while December slumped 0.02 cents to 82.98.


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