Position squaring seemed to stall the crop markets Monday morning. Although corn futures began the week on a firm note and benefitted from a strong result on the weekly USDA Export Inspections report, CBOT futures were only marginally higher by late morning. That very likely reflected widespread position squaring ahead of tomorrow’s monthly USDA reports. March corn futures rose 1.0 cent to $4.3525/bushel by late Monday morning, and May added 1.0 to $4.4375.

Soybeans remained strong in late morning action. Talk of robust export demand seemingly overruled bearish South American production prospects Sunday night. Moreover, the weekly Export Inspections figure easily topped forecasts. Nevertheless, prices seemed to stall around midsession, with apparent long liquidation and short covering trapping prices in a narrow range. January soybeans surged 13.0 cents to $13.385/bushel just before lunchtime Monday, while January soyoil sagged 0.24 cents to 40.25 cents/pound, and January soymeal climbed $8.8 to $436.2/ton.

Wheat futures turned mixed late Monday morning. Concern about winter damage reportedly supported the wheat markets Sunday night, but prices turned as Monday morning passed. The strong result on the Export Inspections report seemingly did little to boost prices. Again, traders are probably reducing their holdings ahead of tomorrow’s monthly USDA reports. March CBOT wheat futures were flat at $6.51/bushel around midsession Monday, and March KCBT wheat futures inched up 1.0 cent to $6.965, while March MWE futures dropped 2.75 to $6.7825.

Wire services again credited short covering for boosting cattle this morning. Cattle futures stabilized last Friday, with the underlying strength reportedly being proved by short covering. Friday’s late wholesale report seemed bearish, but futures moved modestly higher after the CME pit opened. Industry sourced again ascribed the strength to short covering. Wintry weather over the Great Plains is probably providing some support. February cattle futures rallied 0.32 cents to 133.17 cents/pound just before lunchtime Monday, while the April contract ran up 0.40 to 134.10. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle advanced 0.50 cents to 164.97 cents/pound, while March feeders gained 0.32 to 165.65.

Friday’s afternoon reports probably sparked early hog gains. After trading weakly much of last week, hog futures traded firmly Friday afternoon. That apparently marked a response to talk of firming cash and wholesale prices. Indeed, Friday’s late reports were surprisingly strong, which probably powered today’s early surge. February hog futures jumped 0.97 cents to 89.97 cents/pound in late Monday morning trading, while June climbed 0.80 to 100.50.