Corn futures are higher at midday. Weakness in the dollar, higher crude oil and short covering after steep losses earlier this week sparked a modest bounce in the corn market. Corn is also being pulled higher by gains in soybeans. May corn is 3 ½ cents higher at $6.48. July is 4 3/4 cents higher at $6.49 1/4 and the December contract is up 3 1/4 cents at $5.59.
Soybean futures are registering gains at midsession. The Argentine government forecast its crop at 44 million tonnes, five percent less than the USDA forecast. Despite the need for more U.S. soybean production to compensate for South American crop losses, traders believe that farmers will prefer planting more acres of corn while holding soybeans about steady. That view has been reinforced this week by reports of corn plantings this week in the central and southern Midwest. May is 15 1/4 cents higher at $13.64 3/4 and November is 12 3/4 cents higher at $13.24 1/2.
Wheat futures are trading mixed at midday. CBOT and MGE wheat are higher on follow-through buying from Thursday and the coattail tug of stronger corn and soybean prices. Ongoing concern about renewed drought stress on European wheat is a factor as well. KCBT futures have lost early gains and gone to slight losses, however, on forecasts for even more very welcome rain in the very driest areas of the Southern Plains. CBOT May is 2 1/2 higher at $6.48 ¾; KCBOT May is ¾ lower at $6.83 ¼, while MGE May is 4 higher at 8.11.
Cattle futures are trading higher at midday. April and June futures plunged to a new three month low in early on Friday. Demand concerns remain the key negative factor behind the setback in prices the past few weeks. Rising gasoline price and lackluster beef demand have reinforced the negative sentiment. The Cattle on Feed report will be out this afternoon. Traders expect February placements to be up year-over-year, keeping the feedlot inventory high. Cash trade for the week has been completed at mostly $126 to $127, steady to $1 higher from last week. April cattle futures are 85 cents lower at $124.40 and June is $1.05 lower at $121.13.
Lean hog futures are trading lower at midsession. Traders are reacting to the continuing slide in the cash market. The pork cutout value fell on Thursday for the seventh straight day and is now at its lowest level since the beginning of January in 2011. Traders hope that prices are near the bottom, but need to see some rebound in the cash prices before jumping into the market. There is little activity in the cash market on Friday. Processing margins are far in the red and slaughter for the week is expected to be down. April is 50 cents lower at $84.90 and June is 55 cents lower at $92.28.