Corn futures dip at midday

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Corn futures are lower at midsession. Futures were steady to only slightly lower early, but another poor export sales week pushed prices lower. Sales for the current marketing year were only 2 million bushels, one of the poorest sales weeks on record. With cancelations, new crop sales were actually slightly negative. The market has been waiting on some positive export news, but sales this week were disappointing instead. The Coast Guard cut maximum barge draft on the lower Mississippi River to 9 ft from 10 ft previously due to low water. The March contract is 6 1/2 cents lower at $7.46 3/4. December 2013 is 4 cents lower at $6.41 1/2.

Soybean prices have been mixed in mid morning trading, giving back gains from the overnight session. The Brazilian government issued its monthly report on soybean production prospects. Brazil forecasts the crop at 82.6 million tonnes, which is greater than average trade expectations at 81 million. The Brazilian government also had positive comments about the crop progress in general. Meanwhile, Argentina continues to suffer from too much rain, a daily bullish theme. The weekly export sales report found more bean sales than expected at 1.14 million tonnes. January beans were up 2 1/4 cents at $14.81 1/2. November 2013 beans were down 8 1/2 cents at $13.23 1/2.

Once again wheat futures have given up early gains and moved to the minus side for the third time this week. Disappointing export sales this morning are behind the reversal. If Argentina’s woes are going to benefit the U.S. in shifting global export business our way, it had better kick in soon. U.S. export sales year-to-date lag where they “should” be to warrant USDA’s current forecast for 1.1 billion bu. in 2012-13 by more than 200 million bushels. In fact the gap widened out another 10 million bu. in this the weekly sales report, to 220 million. In midsession, CBOT March is down 4 cents at $8.55; KCBT March is down 2 at $9.05 and MGE March is down 2 at $9.29.

Cattle traders seemed disappointed with Wednesday’s afternoon beef quotes, since choice cutout slipped 0.16 cents/pound to 194.89, while the select cuts dove 1.69 cents to 174.83. Boxed beef sales improved somewhat, but continued their 2012 pattern of mediocrity. Strong equity markets and background optimism for late-week cash trading may have offered support. December futures had fallen 0.22 cents to 125.92 cents/pound at midsession, while February slipped one tick to 130.50 cents/pound. Moderate corn losses boosted January feeder futures 0.85 cents to 147.25 cents/pound.

Concerns about seasonal weakness across the hog and pork complex sent CME lean hog futures sharply lower Thursday morning. Mid-December hog slaughter typically proves extremely large, whereas grocers are usually completing their ham purchases for the holiday season. Those factors could undercut swine prices badly as a consequence, especially if pork loins follow their pattern of early-winter weakness from the past few years. The expiring December contract fell 0.95 cents to 84.05 cents/pound during the morning hours, while the February future dropped 1.00 cents to 84.65 cents/pound.


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