CORN: Corn futures are mostly lower in midsesson trade Thursday, erasing their opening gains. Trade volume remains light with a lot of traders off for the week. Some rain is in the forecast for Southern Brazil which may remove one source of support that has helped fuel a modest price rally this week. At midsession, March corn is down 4 cents at $6.39; new crop December down 2 cents at $5.81.

SOYBEANS: Soybean futures prices opened just a bit lower, Thursday, then climbed to the plus side briefly, but are now trading lower again in midsession trade. Improving forecasts for rain in Southern Brazil for this weekend are putting some pressure on the soybean market in overnight trade. There is also pressure from outside markets with weaker crude oil, weaker gold and a stronger dollar. The only plus from the outside markets is a higher DJIA due to some more encouraging news on unemployment and the housing market this morning. At midsession, January beans are down 7 cents at $11.91; new crop November down 6 cents at $11.98.

WHEAT: Wheat prices are mixed in midsession trade Thursday, with the CBOT contracts mostly lower while KCBT and MGE contracts have erased early losses and are now trading slightly higher again for the ninth straight trading session. There is little new news to provide price direction to the wheat market. As we suspected yesterday, year-end short covering by funds has tapered off to a trickle in this second-to-last trading day of 2011 and the especially bearish fundamentals for soft red winter wheat are overwhelming residual support from dry weather in South America, especially with even corn futures on the minus side in midsession trade today. Currently CBOT March futures are down 3 cents at $6.48, while KCBT March is up a penny at $7 and MGE March is up 2 cents at $8.65.

CATTLE: Cattle futures are lower in midsession trade Thursday. Cattle traders are waiting for some news from the cash market. So far the gap between bids and asking prices remains very wide. But some buyers need to buy cattle soon which could force them to raise bids. And there’s room for them to do that since cutout values posted big gains on Wednesday. Then again, with futures at a discount to current cash bids, they’re not in a good position to hold out for higher cash bids, either. In midsession trade, February cattle are down 52 cents at $122.62, while April is down 42 cents at $126.42. Feeder cattle futures are lower as well, with March down 30 cents at $150.05 and April down 60 cents at $150.85.

HOGS: Lean hog futures are lower in midsession trade Thursday. Cash hog prices continue to work slowly lower, and they are now down about $5 per cwt since the middle of the month. The weakening cash prices are putting pressure on futures prices as well. The recent strength in the dollar is also a concern since exports are such an important part of demand. Hog weights are rising. Last week they were up 1.4 pounds from a year earlier. A hefty slaughter schedule is expected for Saturday, but it looks like plants have their needs covered well into next week. At midsession, February hogs are down 50 cents at $85.05, while April hogs are down 32 cents at $88.63.

COTTON: Cotton prices opened higher as expected but then quickly sold off and are now on the minus side, though off the lows of the day thus far. Cotton prices posted big gains on Wednesday turning most technical signals positive. But with just today and tomorrow left as trading days for year-end book closing and traders reluctant to maintain positions through a holiday weekend, we’re seeing some profit-taking today; especially since there wasn’t much news to warrant yesterday’s jump in futures and the strengthening dollar is hurting export competitiveness. At midsession, March cotton is down 28 at $90.40 while new crop December cotton is down $1.81 at $87.12.