The corn market continues suffering from a dearth of fresh news during the current holiday season, with poor export sales dominating trading during the second half of December. Traders will be blessed with news later this morning, when the weekly Export Sales reports are released. Futures will react based upon the difference between expectations and the actual figures. A surprisingly large result could spark an inordinately strong reaction. Corn seemed to follow the soybean market higher in overnight trading. March corn rose 2 3/4 cents to $6.94 1/4 and December advanced 2 1/2 cents to $5.98 1/2 per bushel.

After disappointing bulls Thursday, when futures proved unable to sustain early gains, the soybean market rose again in overnight trading. Strong Malaysian palm oil shipments and concerns about potential flooding of its most productive region seemed to boost soybean oil Friday morning, which in turn pulled CBOT soybean futures higher. Those considerations will very likely move into the background after the weekly Export Sales data are released later this morning. January beans surged 7 cents to $14.25 3/4 per bushel in early morning trading, thereby following the 0.46 cent jump to 48.75 cents/pound posted by January soyoil; January meal edged $0.8 to $430.6/ton.

The wheat market also bounced overnight after suffering persistent losses earlier in the week. Wire service sourced cited bargain hunting and spillover from the soybean market for the bulk of the gain. Given the relative cheapness of U.S. product, as well as the depressed nature of domestic futures markets at this point, we may see a good deal of profit-taking by bears today and Monday. Of course, the results of the weekly Export Sales report could also affect the wheat market. March CBOT wheat climbed 5 cents to $7.77 1/4 Thursday, while March KCBT wheat rose 4 1/4 cent lower to $8.27 1/2 and March MGE futures gained 3 1/4 cents to $8.68/bushel.

Thursday’s combination of U.S. dollar strength and equity index losses seemed to weigh upon cattle futures, since traders view both of those market shifts as having negative implications for red meat demand. Indeed, it seemed as if the same forces were pushing the cattle market lower again last night. On the other hand, the most-active February contract inched higher, possibly in reaction to Thursday afternoon news that a few fed cattle had changed hands at 127 cents/pound, which represented an approximate one-cent advance over the consensus price reached last week. Country cattle may have to move even higher to impress traders in the CME pit. February live cattle futures rose 0.07 cents to 133.12 in Friday morning trading, while April dipped 0.15 cents to 136.72 cents/pound.

The hog market also seemed unable to overcome the negative economic implications of the Thursday combination of dollar strength and equity index losses, although they posted a substantial rebound later in the CME session. And while pork cutout fell rather sharply late yesterday afternoon, Chicago traders apparently focused upon the cash gains implied by late direct market reports. Actually, the hog market may not move a great deal today, since the USDA will release its quarterly Hogs & Pigs report at 2:00 PM CST. That might power a sharp reaction if the data hold any major surprises. February hogs gained 0.22 cents to 87.25 cents/pound early this morning, while the June contract rose 0.15 cents to 100.30.