Corn futures closed narrowly mixed on Monday. The lack of fresh news led to choppy trade ahead of the USDA reports due out on Thursday. The average trade guess for USDA’s ending stocks estimate for the 2011/12 crop year is 791 million bushels, which would be down 55 million from last month. Strength in the dollar index and weakness in crude oil and equities were bearish factors. March ended 1/4 of a cent lower at $6.44 1/4 and May was 1/2 of a cent higher at $6.51 1/4.     

Soybean futures traded slightly higher on Monday. Strength in the cash market, concern about smaller soybean crop in South America from earlier estimates and ideas of soybean sales to China supported the market. However, gains were limited by strength in the dollar index and positioning ahead of the USDA reports due out on Thursday. March closed 1/2 of a cent higher at $12.33 and May was 1 1/4 cents higher at $12.42.

Wheat futures were higher on Monday. Short-covering and ideas that world wheat supplies could be tightening supported the market. Cold weather has hurt the wheat crops in parts of eastern Europe and the Black Sea region. Trade expectations for the USDA Supply/Demand report are for global end to stocks to be lowered from 210 million metric tons last month to 209 million this month. CBOT March closed 7 3/4 cents higher at $6.68 1/2, KCBT March was 6 1/4 cents higher at $7.19 and MGE March ended 2 1/2 cents higher at $8.41.  

Cattle futures closed slightly higher on Monday. The market was able to close slightly higher on short-covering in light volume trade. Futures were pressured much of the day by poor packer margins and weakness in the cash market last week. Cash trade slipped to mostly $123, down $1 from the previous week. Ideas that feedlots are becoming less current could give packers more bargaining power to push cash prices lower again this week. February ended 13 cents higher at $123.75 and April was 10 cents higher at $127.50.

Lean hog futures closed mixed on Monday. Front end contracts were pressured by the weak tone in the cash market. Estimated packer margins are in the red and packers are pushing cash bids lower. Futures have been supported recently by ideas of improved seasonal demand. While demand for hams for Easter could provide support over the next few weeks, it will take some improvement just to pull packer margins up from negative levels. February closed 40 cents lower at $87.13 and April was 38 cents lower at $88.55.