Grain futures reversed to the upside Thursday morning

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Thursday morning news that China had cancelled private sales of 315,000 tonnes of soybeans scheduled to be shipped in the coming weeks depressed that market and weighed upon grain values as well. Corn futures may also have been suffering from talk of benign weather over South American growing areas, since the prospect of bumper crops in the Southern Hemisphere might undercut U.S. exports that are already proving quite slow. Still, the late-morning losses were smaller than those seen in overnight trading, thereby suggesting the short-term corn outlook is not all that bad. On the other hand, the late firmness may simply represent fund buying as those entities rebuild their portfolios to start the new year. Nearby corn prices had climbed back above unchanged levels before noon, with the March contract trading 2 3/4 cent higher, at $6.93 1/2, by late morning, whereas December had fallen 2 cents to $5.90 1/4 per bushel.

The USDA announced Thursday morning that China had cancelled delivery of 315,000 tonnes of soybeans previously scheduled for the 2012-13 crop year. As one would normally expect, the news was not conducive to strength in Chicago futures. Moreover, growing talk of a bumper South American bean crop apparently holds significantly negative implications for the intermediate-term outlook. Nevertheless, soybean futures rebounded substantially from early lows, which may indicate an influx of fresh fund buying, especially if those managers believe the market is technically oversold in the wake of recent losses. If the intra-day bounce is sustained through the end of the day, that might signal a larger technical reversal. March beans were priced only 5 1/4 cents lower at $14.00 1/4 per bushel in late-morning activity, while March soyoil was down 0.17 cents to 50.35 cents/pound and January meal had dipped $2.1 to $405.0/ton.

The wheat markets proved even more amenable to a Thursday morning rebound than did their counterparts in the corn and soybean pits. In fact, the bounce came despite talk that Egyptian officials hope to reduce their 2013 imports by about 1.0 million tonnes and the concurrent rebound posted by the U.S. dollar, since such gains typically raise the cost of American products faced by foreign buyers. Ultimately, traders may simply have concluded the recent drop was overdone and the market is now due for a significant rebound. March CBOT wheat rose 4 cents to $7.59 1/4 by mid-session; March KCBT wheat was up 3 3/4 cents to $8.14 3/4, while March MGE futures surged 5 1/2 cents to $8.47/bushel.

Cattle futures rose moderately in Thursday morning electronic trading, the accelerated upward after the CME pit session commenced. There was no news obviously powering the move, so we are inclined to credit talk of rising cash and/or wholesale prices later today. Given its history of posting a substantial seasonal rally through the first quarter, especially in years when snow and cold dominate the Southern Plains, the rise is not particularly shocking. Still, such strength certainly suggests bulls will continue to dominate the cattle market for the foreseeable future. February cattle had jumped 1.42 cents to 132.70cents/pound in late-morning trading, while the April future had advanced 1.32 cents to 137.50 cents/pound.

The latest hog and pork news has not been particularly supportive of the short-term outlook. For example, pork cutout essentially gave back its Monday gain Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Iowa-Southern Minnesota hog market declined modestly yesterday afternoon and was called about 1.25 cents lower this morning. Nevertheless, CME swine futures their counterparts in the cattle pit substantially higher after pit trading began. Market participants may simply think the ongoing cattle surge will lift all boats, especially with the hog and pork complex also exhibiting an historical tendency to rally during the first six weeks of the year. February hogs surged 1.07 cents to 87.25 cents/pound around mid-session and the June contract had jumped 1.12 cents to 99.37.

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