Crop markets could not sustain early gains

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After rising Sunday night, corn futures turned decidedly lower Monday. Disappointing rainfall in dry areas of Southern Brazil and Argentina over the weekend probably caused the early advance; forecasts indicating little relief over the next two weeks probably boosted prices as well. Conversely, the poor result on the weekly Export Inspections report probably undercut the market, with the latest figure reportedly be the smallest since 1997. Wire service reports also cited technically-based selling and a surprising rise by the U.S. dollar for the slippage. March corn ended the day 1.75 cents lower at $7.3425/bushel, whereas December rose 2.25 cent to $5.9375.

South American weather news pushed the soy complex higher Monday. Trader disappointment with weekend rainfall over the crop growing regions of Argentina and Southern Brazil played a large role in the early-week surge, as did talk of persistent dryness over the next two weeks. The weekly Export Inspections report also proved favorable for bullish interests, since the latest result easily topped industry forecasts. March soybeans jumped 14.00 cents to $14.8825 in early trading, while March soyoil gained 0.10 cents to 53.09 cents/pound and March meal rallied $5.8 to $434.0/ton.

Wheat futures followed the corn and soybean markets higher in Monday morning trading, then turned downward. Persistent drought over the Southern Plains is probably providing background support, as is the potential for drought-shortened Argentine crops. However, the latest Export Inspections data proved rather disappointing, since the total posted last week, at 15.2 million bushels fell well short of forecasts in the 20-25 million bushel range. Sales by disappointed technicians seemingly exaggerated the afternoon slide. March CBOT wheat futures slid 2.0 cents to $7.63/bushel Monday afternoon, while March KCBT wheat fell 5.0 cents to $8.17 and March MGE futures tumbled 3.75 cents to $8.47.

Traders saw cattle futures rise sharply then retreat Monday. The big opening surge apparently marked a bullish reaction to the February 1 Cattle inventory report, which stated the 2012 calf crop well below expectations. However, other data, particularly the number of steers outside feedlots, held negative implications. News of a forthcoming Russian embargo on U.S. beef and pork, as well as the big Friday afternoon drop in cutout values probably exacerbated the subsequent setback. April cattle closed just 0.10 cents higher, at 132.27 cents/pound, Monday afternoon, while August gained 0.23 cents to 128.90. March feeder cattle had dipped 0.33 cents to 148.87 cents/pound when the closing bell rang, while August had risen 0.47 cents higher to 160.55

Hog futures proved surprisingly weak Monday. Talk of seasonal strength seemingly boded well for the start of weekly trading, but CME swine futures moved moderately lower. Wire service sources cited uncertain demand prospects, but we suspect news of the looming Russian import ban played a sizeable role as well. Early reports of cash market weakness in the Eastern Corn Belt may have weighed upon prices as well. April hogs dipped 0.40 cents to 88.32 cents/pound at the CME close, while June skidded 0.25 cents to 97.40.

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