Corn prices are trading higher at midday. Support is coming from the poor growing conditions that continue to evolve in South America, especially Argentina. Hot and dry weather is expected for key growing areas in Argentina for the next 10 days or more. Weekly export sales were even lighter than expected, coming in at 12.6 million bushels compared to expectations for around 17 million. Shipments of 37 million bushels remain on track to reach USDA’s export forecast for the year. March is 8 3/4 cents higher at $6.46 3/4 and May is 8 1/4 cents higher at $6.54 1/2.
Soybean futures are trading higher at midsession. Concerns over the dry weather in Argentina continue to boost soybean prices. The market pulled back a bit from the strong gains earlier this week, but is moving higher again as the dry weather in Argentina and parts of Brazil is a great concern. However, the impact of the poor weather in Argentina is at least partially offset by forecasts for rain in some key growing areas of Brazil over the weekend and early next week. Weekly export sales of 24.3 million bushels were the previous week and the prior 4-week average. January is 15 1/2 cents higher at $12.03 and March is 15 1/4 cents higher at $12.12 1/4.
Wheat futures are trading higher at midday. The uptrend in wheat prices remains in place even with the slightly lower close on Thursday. Stronger prices for corn coupled with some weakness in the value of the dollar are giving wheat prices a modest boost. Year-end short covering is helping lift prices as well. Trade volume is light on this final day of trading for 2011. Weekly export sales of 15.8 million bushels were up from the previous week and the prior 4-week average. CBOT March is 8 1/4 cents higher at $6.53 1/2, KCBT March is 13 cents higher at $7.11 and MGE March is 2 1/2 cents higher at $8.57 3/4.
Live cattle futures are trading higher at midday. The market is supported by rising beef prices, which raise hopes for higher cash cattle prices. Cash cattle trade has yet to get established, and it doesn’t look like there will be much activity, with a pretty wide gap between buyers and sellers. With the light trade in the cash market again this week there will be a large carryover of market ready cattle into early January. Modest weakness in the value of the dollar is providing some support to cattle futures prices on Friday. February is 40 cents higher at $122.75 and April is 38 cents higher at $126.60.
Lean hog futures are trading mostly higher at midsession. Cash hog prices are steady to $1 higher, which is lending support to the futures market and is helping to stop the sharp drop in hog futures prices that occurred on Thursday. Cash prices usually begin to improve once we start the new year and the December Hogs and Pigs report indicated that hog slaughter early in 2012 will be just a little above year-earlier levels. However, by February we should start seeing year-over-year increases near 2 percent and beef production will still be relatively high at that point. But later in the year beef production will decline and that will help to support hog prices even if pork production is up. February is 73 cents higher at $84.70 and April is 63 cents higher at $88.35.
Cotton futures are trading modestly higher at midday. The July contract closed above 90 cents per pound on Thursday for the first time since December 8, and the market is taking a bit of a breather in this new, higher territory. Traders continue to worry about the strength of the global economy and long-term demand for cotton. Some traders expect significant declines in area in China in 2012 and U.S. acreage is also expected to decline. Some say cotton area in China could be down by as much as 20 percent from the 2011 level, but a smaller cut is more likely. But even with the potential for less acreage in 2012, traders aren’t willing to buy into tight supplies next season, at least not yet. March is 12 points higher at 91.75 cents and May is 13 points higher at 91.49 cents.