Grain, livestock markets ended week in mixed fashion

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Nearby corn futures closed moderately lower Friday. Prices rallied in early trading due to projections for diminished rainfall over South American fields next week. However, weather models apparently shifts in the opposite directions when run again around noon, thereby undercutting the market. The release of fresh production forecasts by a Memphis-based advisory firm may also have depressed the market, since the net of their changes was a 1.9 million tonne rise in South American corn production. March corn ended the week having dipped 4.25 cents to $7.3625, while December edged 1.0 cent higher to $5.91/bushel.

Soybean futures ended the weak at slightly higher levels. Forecasts for South American dryness sent prices substantially higher in early trading, but the midday shift toward increased moisture for Southern Brazil and Argentina rather obviously pulled the CBOT market downward. Revised South American soybean production forecasts may have limited the damage, since the sum of those changes was a 2.8 million tonne reduction in the forecast for the two big Southern Hemisphere producers. March soybeans settled 5.75 cents higher, at $14.4725 per bushel Friday afternoon, while March soyoil gained 0.14 cents to 53.00 cents/pound and March meal rose $0.8 to $428.2/ton.

Wheat futures fell sharply Friday. Although, persistent drought over the Southern Plains is probably providing background support at the various wheat exchanges, reports that severe cold over the Midwest did no significant damage to winter wheat pastures may have undercut the markets. One could contend that afternoon corn losses weighed upon wheat, but that argument ignores the soybean advance. Otherwise, the news seemed supportive of the golden grain market. Given these conditions, the big breakdown seems to hold decidedly negative connotations for wheat market activity next week. March CBOT wheat futures dove 14.50 cents to $7.655 per bushel at the Friday close, while March KCBT wheat plunged 17.0 cents to end the week at $8.22 and March MGE futures fell 13.25 cents to $8.5175.

Friday trading saw cattle futures slip once again. Weak beef prices and flat sales are apparently weighing upon the market. The inability of CME futures to rally in response to mid-week cash gains probably discouraged many as well. The biannual USDA Cattle inventory report issued after the close seemed to hold somewhat negative connotations for the spring outlook, but proved more favorable for long-term prospects. April cattle closed 0.57 cents lower, at 132.17 cents/pound Friday, while its August counterpart fell 0.65 cents to 128.67. March feeder cattle were down 0.35 cents to 149.20 cents/pound, while August dipped 0.17 to 160.07.

After rising modestly Friday morning, CME lean hog futures closed generally lower. Strong midweek cash market gains and a jump in ham prices apparently powered the Chicago market upward in early trading. However, industry insiders expect the weekly slaughter total to exceed comparable week and year-ago levels, while direct markets quotes proved much less supportive Friday. April hogs had fallen 0.60 cents to 88.75 cents/pound at the close, while June also lost 0.60 cents to 97.50.

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