Crop markets were quiet as livestock futures rallied last night

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Grain futures barely moved Wednesday night. Little news pertinent to the crop markets emerged last night, which seemed to leave prices directionless. A private firm did modestly boost its estimates of forthcoming European grain production, thereby seeming to account for early slippage. Traders await the weekly Export Sales reports. September corn slipped 1.0 cent to $3.725/bushel early Thursday morning, while December lost 1.25 cents to $3.855.

The soy complex is mixed in early Thursday trading. New crop soy futures declined modestly overnight, which likely reflected ideal Corn Belt conditions and prospects for a record fall harvest. However, old crop prices inched upward in a manner that apparently reflected a sustained reaction to Wednesday’s news of a sizeable Chinese purchase. August soybean futures bounced 1.5 cents to $11.8875/bushel shortly after sunrise Thursday, while November futures sagged 2.0 cents to $11.00. August soyoil edged up 0.06 cents to 36.89 cents/pound, while August soymeal added $0.7 to $384.4/ton.

The wheat markets are narrowly mixed. Wheat futures continued their confused Wednesday action with more of the same overnight. CBOT SRW prices rose modestly, whereas KC and MWE prices moved mostly lower. Again, one might blame the forecast for increased European production and talk of increased tariffs on grain flowing to the EU. The Export Sales report may shake things up. September CBOT wheat rose 0.25 cent to $5.3825/bushel in early Thursday action, while September KC wheat slid 1.0 cent to $6.3625/bushel, and September MWE wheat skidded 1.0 cent to $6.27/bushel.

Steady cash trading is boosting cattle futures. Despite early-week wholesale weakness, packer buyers bought a few central Plains cattle for steady money yesterday afternoon. That news almost surely triggered the overnight surge, since traders had expected a significant decline instead. August live cattle leapt 2.02 cents to 149.70 cents/pound as Thursday dawned over Chicago, while December rallied 0.75 cents to 152.80. Meanwhile, August feeder cattle jumped 1.00 cent to 210.82 cents/pound, and October climbed 0.57 to 211.25.

CME hogs seemed to follow cattle higher last night. Bearish expectations are also built into CME lean hog futures, so news implying cash firmness may trigger a bullish reaction. Thus, the prospect of stronger cattle and beef prices seemingly boosted hog futures Wednesday night despite mixed-to-weak cash and pork quotes yesterday afternoon. August hog futures advanced 0.22 cents to 130.75 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while December inched up 0.02 cents to 104.02 cents.

Cotton futures edged upward Wednesday night. As in the other crop markets, cotton traders lacked for overnight news. Still, despite concurrent grain and soy weakness, as well as a drop in equity index futures, fiber prices have risen slightly. One has to suspect traders are looking for a favorable result on the weekly Export Sales report. December cotton gained 0.01 cent to 67.65 cents per pound in early Thursday trading, while March futures dipped 0.05 to 68.25 cents/lb.

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