Corn futures began the week on a firm note. Wheat led the crop markets higher Sunday night due to fears of frost damage to large areas by the arctic temperatures. Talk of increased feed usage and slowing farmer sales also supported corn prices, despite huge domestic supplies and expectations for large South American crops during the coming weeks. Conversely, traders were disappointed by the results of the weekly Export Inspections report. March corn futures rose 4.25 cents to $4.2775/bushel in Monday action, while May added 4.0 cents to $4.3575/bushel.
The Export Inspections report boosted soybeans and meal Monday. Recent news from South America has pointed toward huge soybean crops in Brazil and Argentina, thereby tending to depress prices. However, bean and meal prices bounced Sunday night in concert with wheat and corn. A very strong 56.4 million bushels on the weekly Export Inspections report boosted prices even farther. However, Asian palm oil weakness continued dragging soyoil futures downward. March soybeans closed up 5.5 cents at $12.7675/bushel Monday afternoon, while March soyoil fell 0.48 cents to 38.12 cents/pound, and March soymeal surged $6.7 to $413.8/ton.
The wheat markets reacted to the frigid weather. Traders worry that U.S. wheat fields, especially those in the Southern Plains, are not well enough protected with snow to avoid widespread frost damage from the arctic conditions now dominating the Great Plains and Midwest. The Export Inspections essentially matched the week-prior total and seemed to undercut the markets. March CBOT wheat futures settled unchanged at $6.0575/bushel in Monday trading, while March KCBT wheat futures gained 1.5 cents to $6.44, and March MWE futures were steady at $6.305.
Renewed cash and beef strength encouraged cattle market bulls. Cash and wholesale gains sparked cattle futures gains late last week and started off doing the same this week. Arctic temperatures and their potential to reduce cattle slaughter and beef production are almost surely spurring bullish interest as well. February cattle futures rallied 0.52 cents to 136.82 cents/pound at Monday’s close, while April futures moved up 0.35 to 136.92. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures stalled at 168.10 cents/pound, and May edged up 0.02 to 169.72.
Cash and wholesale weakness undercut hog futures once again. After rallying last Thursday, CME hog futures turned downward in reaction to late-week cash and wholesale weakness on Friday. That seemed to be the theme of trading early this week as well. February hogs slipped 0.05 cents to 86.62 cents/pound in late Monday trading, while June inched up 0.20 to 101.20.