Crop markets were generally firm Monday night

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Corn futures seemed to follow the soybean market higher Tuesday morning, with wire service reports citing the tight short-term supply situation for the rise. Sources also pointed to general commodity strength, U.S. dollar weakness and surprisingly robust export demand for the corn strength. May corn rose 1.25 cents to $7.045/bushel in overnight trading, while December gained fell 0.25 cent to $5.505.

Talk of vigorous export demand reportedly powered soybean futures higher Monday and again overnight. Bulls were apparently quite impressed with the weekly Export Inspections report, since it stated the latest result at 40.3 million bushels, whereas industry forecasts had peaked at 35 million. Bullish interests reportedly expect the USDA to lower its 2012-13 ending stocks estimate on the Friday morning WASDE report. May soybeans rallied 4.75 cents to $14.6675/bushel early Tuesday morning, while May soyoil slipped 0.09 cents to 50.17 cents/pound on the weak Asian palm oil situation; May meal climbed $1.8 to $435.5/ton.

Wheat futures apparently drew support from the corn and soybeans markets Monday night, but weather news seemingly limited their response. That is, the snow that blanketed the Southern Plains in late February is being followed by systems likely to bless the Great Plains and Midwest with significant rain and snow in early March. Not only could the winter wheat crop increase substantially as a consequence, so might the spring wheat crops set to be planted during the weeks just ahead. May CBOT wheat futures inched 1.25 cents lower to $7.0175/bushel in pre-dawn action, while May KCBT wheat gained 1.0 cent to $7.39, and May MGE futures edged upward 0.25 cent to $7.925.

Cattle futures began the week firmly as traders anticipated seasonal strength and rose slightly again last night. Actually, the overnight gains seemed rather minimal when compared to the large jump posted by beef values Monday afternoon. For example, choice cutout jumped 2.86 cents to 190.96 cents/pound, which marked its first quote above the 190-cent level since January 22. Given such strong beef gains, traders are almost surely looking for country market gains later this week as well. April cattle rose just 0.12 cents to 130.47 cents/pound early Tuesday morning, while August gained 0.02 cents to 125.95. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle were unchanged at 144.72 cents/pound, while August dipped 0.40 cents to 154.15.

Hog futures dropped substantially Monday and remained under pressure early Tuesday morning, despite signs of cash and wholesale weakness. Cash prices at direct markets west of the Mississippi River surged significantly Monday afternoon, while pork cutout posted a modest advance. Those gains will probably have to be sustained before many traders prove willing to sponsor the long side of CME futures. April hogs slid 0.20 cents to 80.10 cents/pound in early Tuesday trading, while June skidded 0.25 cents at 90.32.

The cotton situation seemingly remains bullish as exemplified by the fourth consecutive 2013 high reached in overnight trading. The fact that only six delivery notices were posted against the expiring March contract last night certainly suggests traders expect persistent gains. Having the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), its top economic planning agency, announce overnight that it will continue its policy of stockpiling cotton probably boosted prices as well. May cotton climbed 0.74 cents to 87.00 cents/pound in early Tuesday trading, while December gained 0.27 cents to 85.69.

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