Grains move higher, livestock mixed

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Corn futures are about 4 cents higher at midsession. Strength in beans and wheat are providing the upside leadership. The cash corn market is firm as farmers are tightly holding limited supplies. Shippers are closely monitoring Mississippi River water levels from St. Louis to Cairo, IL. Low water is likely to limit barge transportations. Excessive rain in Argentina is renewed concern with 40% of the crop left to plant. December corn futures are 3 3/4 cents higher at $7.51. March is also 3 3/4 cents higher at $7.55.

The soybean market was sharply higher at mid morning with bullishness associated with renewed talk of Chinese buying interest. Although China has not been an active buyer of U.S. beans recently, there have been several large soybean oil sales to unidentified buyers that many want to attribute to Chinese buying. Bulls are talking up risks for more planting delays in Argentina. However, weather conditions for most of the Brazilian soybean belt are favorable and price bearish. January soybeans were trading up 18 1/4 cents at $14.43. November 2013 was up 13 cents at $13.09.

The wheat markets were sharply higher in midmorning trading with all markets notching mid teen gains. On Monday afternoon, USDA reported that the national winter wheat rating had declined by one more point to 33% good to excellent. That is a record low rating heading into winter dormancy. Drought is the problem and the winter months usually find little relief in the Plains states. Chicago March wheat was trading 16 3/4 cents higher at $8.80 1/2. March Kansas City was up 17 1/4 at $9.19. The Minneapolis March contract was trading up 16 cents at $9.44.

Live cattle futures are 20 to 40 cents higher at midmorning. In a surprising development, packers bought several thousand head of Texas cattle from feedlots on Monday. The prices were steady with last week. The active trade on Monday is not expected to continue Tuesday. Most feedlot operators are asking for prices about $2 to $3 higher than prices received last week. However, showlists are generally larger this week and cutout values were lower on Monday. December CME cattle futures are 37 cents higher at $128.77. February cattle are 40 cents higher at $132.80.

Lean hog futures are lower at midday. The weakness in futures appears to be related to end-of-month position closing since cash market fundamentals are relatively strong. Cash hog prices were up on Monday and are reported to be higher so far on Tuesday. The pork cutout value also increased Monday, but packer margins are positive but not great. Typically cash hog prices bottom in November and move modestly higher in December. The December contract is down about 35 cents at $82.13 and June is 70 cents lower at $100.15.

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