Crop, livestock prices generally lower Friday morning

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Corn prices are 1 to 3 cents lower early Friday morning. Friday morning trading continued the minor sell-off that started Thursday. Most of the selling was by noncommercials closing out contracts ahead of the weekend. In generally, market fundamentals are still strong. Forecasts call for more wet weather in Argentina which will further delay corn planting. The trend in the corn market is still up, with resistance for the March contract near $7.70 per bushel.

Soybean prices are down by 10 to 12 cents Friday morning. As is the case for corn, the lower prices are caused by speculators closing out long positions. The wet weather in Argentina – and the forecasts say more rain is on the way – is a bullish factor for the soybean market. Some relief is forecast for the dry areas in Brazil. Commercial traders are still buying, suggesting that more export sales are in the works. The January contract has been moving higher since bottoming out November 16.

Wheat prices are about 5 to 7 cents lower early Friday. The lower wheat prices are due at least in part to spill over selling from corn and soybean markets. The underlying fundamentals have not changed, with drought conditions in the hard red winter growing areas supporting prices, and relatively weak export sales providing pressure. There is growing concern that the wet weather in Argentina will cause disease problems for the wheat crop and lower the quality of the crop.

Live cattle futures are trading 10 to 20 cents lower Friday morning. There has still been essentially no activity in the cash market. It appears that packers need to buy cattle, so cash prices for the week will probably be close to those reported last week. Beef cutout value has increased, which could make buyers a little more aggressive, but margins are still tight. Live cattle futures have moved sideways at best this week and feeder cattle futures have been weak.

Lean hog futures are about 15 to 40 cents lower Friday morning. Hog futures faded near the end of the session on Thursday and the weakness continued overnight. While cash hog prices continued to move higher Thursday, the pork cutout fell. Packer margins were just okay before the squeeze that resulted from yesterday’s price moves, but packers still plan a high slaughter day on Saturday, so cash bids may continue to move higher at least for another few days.

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