Improved weather forecasts weighed on crop markets Tuesday night

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Corn futures slipped again Tuesday night. Although short-term forecasts for the dry areas of Southern Brazil and Argentina have improved only slightly, meteorologists see late summer (Southern Hemisphere) conditions as being more favorable for ample rainfall. Having March futures drop below its 10-day moving average (MA) Tuesday did not help the bullish cause. March corn fell 5.0 cents to $7.24/bushel in overnight electronic action, while December dropped 6.0 cents to $5.84.

After seeming set to rise substantially Tuesday, soybean futures ended the day virtually unchanged, then fell rather sharply overnight. Weather forecasts suggesting late February-March conditions could prove much more conducive to heavy rains were greeted in a manner similar to predictions for August rains in the U.S. The fact that the March contract also proved unable to sustain a push above chart resistance associated with its 10-day MA probably exaggerated the early morning losses. March soybeans were trading 11.50 cents lower, at $14.84 in Wednesday morning activity, while March soyoil had dipped 0.43 cents to 52.55 cents/pound and March meal slumped $2.6 to $435.9/ton.

The latest weather news also seemed to weigh upon wheat futures Wednesday morning. That is, it seems as if the Winter Wheat Belt will be blessed with more substantial rainfall this weekend than previously thought, thereby improving crop prospects for spring and early summer. Of course, the concurrent losses suffered by corn and soybeans likely added to the downward pressure. March CBOT wheat futures skidded 3.75 cents to $7.5375/bushel in pre-dawn trading, while March KCBT wheat slipped 3.25 cents to $8.04 and March MGE futures declined 1.75 cents to $8.40.

The expiring February contract led cattle futures higher overnight. The lack of fresh delivery notices against it, despite its significant premium to the consensus cash price reached last week, probably played a sizable role in the advance, as did the surprising jump in choice cutout values. Traders still seem to expect cash prices to continue climbing through early February. Conversely, they seem much less confident about the spring outlook than was previously the case. April cattle rose .05 cents 132.35 cents/pound in early morning trading, while August edged 0.12 cents higher to 129.00. March feeder cattle climbed 0.27 cents to 148.80 cents/pound, while August was unchanged at 160.52.

Hog futures seem set for a poor Wednesday morning opening. Although the expiring February hog future rallied slightly Tuesday, its deferred counterparts fell significantly. But those may only have been harbingers of things to come in the wake of the Tuesday afternoon pork report, which indicated that a five-cent drop in fresh pork belly values led an across-the-board breakdown in the other cuts. The resulting 1.62-cent drop in pork cutout suggests hopes for seasonal rally through mid-February will now prove forlorn. April hogs dropped 0.30 cents to 87.40 in overnight action, while June sank 0.40 cents to 96.05.

Nearby cotton futures continued their recent slide Wednesday morning. Lack of substantive news remains a problem for bulls hoping to push the market higher. Conversely, technicians probably like the diminished outside interference with their chart patterns. Actually, the bulls very likely did not care for the fact that the nearby March future proved unable to climb back above its 10-day MA yesterday, since that suggests a test of chart support at lower levels, particularly 80 cents/pound, could now occur. March cotton sank 0.18 cents to 81.33 in Tuesday night electronic action, while December fell 0.51 cents to 81.40.

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