Markets mostly stronger in midday trade

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Corn prices were steady to lower in early going, but turned up on stronger weekly ethanol production. Ethanol production last week was up nearly 4% from the prior week to 835k barrels per day. The increase broke three consecutive weeks of lower production. While ethanol stocks rose, the market reacted positively to the increase in ethanol production. The news provided some relief from continued lagging exports. March corn is 3 1/2 cents higher at $7.55 1/2. December 2013 is 3 cents higher at 6.44 3/4.

Soybean prices are sharply higher in mid morning trading. The bull market was back in gear with concerns about the risk for production losses in Argentina dominating the buying interest. There is more news of flooding fields with implications that means significant delays before soybean plantings will be completed. Rumors continue this morning that China has been in the market buying beans for January delivery, although there have been no confirmations from USDA of large sales. Canada trimmed its canola production forecast, bullish news for soyoil. January beans were up 19 cents at $14.74 1/2. November 2013 beans were up 7 3/4 cents at $13.22.

Wheat futures have added to early morning gains in midday trade Wednesday. But it was the same story the past two days and wheat ended up lower. Today could be different. The chronic wet weather has most definitely hurt the Argentine crop. It’s only one third harvested; significant acreage was reportedly lost altogether due to flooding, and now disease and head sprouting in unharvested wheat is a growing problem. This supports continued confidence that lagging U.S. export sales are going to pick up in time to sustain USDA’s current export forecast. In midday trade, CBOT March is up 4 1/2 at $8.61; KCBT March is up 5 at $9.07 1/2,and MGE March is up 5 1/4 at $9.34 1/2.

Cattle futures are higher at midsession. Feeder cattle futures are also a little stronger. Last week’s lower cash trade lingers as a negative factor for prices. Packers are reportedly utilizing a lot of contract cattle. Further, traders are concerned that beef demand could remain weak until retailers begin buying post Christmas needs later this month. Even so, cattle are gaining some strength in sympathy with the outside markets. At midsession, February cattle are up 67 cents at $130.80; January feeders are 62 cents higher at $146.20.

Hog futures are mixed in midday Wednesday trade despite the further strength in cash hogs Tuesday. That’s at least partly because futures remain at a strong premium to cash, though the gap is closing. Deferred contracts are under pressure from ideas the big premiums they hold over nearby contracts may be overdone if producers have tempered production cutbacks evident in the last Hogs& Pigs Report. In midday trade, December hogs are up 20 at $84.65; May futures down 25 at $97.35 and June is down 5 at $100.

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