Planting delays in Argentina boost grain prices

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Corn futures are 2-5 cents higher at midsession. Futures were 10-11 cents higher early, but gains have faded through the morning as wheat and beans have also pulled back from early highs. Delivery notices were light at 246 contracts. Weekly export inspections were disappointing at 9.6 million bushels versus expectations in the low-to-mid 20s which weighed on prices. The March contract is 4 cents higher at $7.56 3/4. December 2013 is 4 1/2 cents higher at 6.40.

Soybean prices were sharply higher in mid morning trading. The focus is back on Argentina where rains continue to cause delays in soybean plantings. There were weekend rains and more rains are on the way this week. Some fields continue to be subject to flooding. Drier weather may show up in a week or so. Bullish traders were also back to citing potential demand from China. Weather in Brazil is generally good for crop prospects over the next one to two weeks. January beans were up 20 cents at $14.58 3/4. November 2013 beans were up 14 cents at $13.18 1/2.

Wheat prices opened strong in overnight trade and remain modestly higher in midday trade. The drought in the Plains states is helping to fuel the rally in wheat prices and there is essentially no rain in the forecasts for the area. Particularly worrisome are reports of seeded wheat that barely emerged at all before entering dormancy. Plus, there are ongoing concerns about the quality of this year’s Argentine crop due to excessive rain in late stages of ripening and harvest. The developing weakness for the U.S. dollar is raising hopes that U.S. export sales will soon begin the sustained surge needed to warrant USDA’s current export forecast. At midsession, CBOT March wheat is up 5 ¼ at $8.68 ¾; KCBT March is up 3 at $9.16 ¼; and MGE March is up 5 ¼ at $9.42.

Live cattle futures are a little lower at midday on Monday. Surprisingly weak cash trade late week pressured cattle futures on Friday and additional selling pressure is evident in futures so far on Monday. Cash cattle traded $1 to mostly $2 lower in the Plains at $125. Outside markets are positive, providing underlying support. Preliminary data suggests that feedlot placements in November were low again, probably down by 10 percent or more from 2011 levels. February cattle are trading 20 cents lower at $130.20

Lean hog futures prices are mixed at midday Monday. Nearby futures are higher, fueled by solid gains in cash market prices on Friday. The national average cash price was up by nearly $2 per cwt on Friday and higher bids are expected on Monday. Retail demand for hams for the upcoming holiday is strong and packers are having some difficulty getting the hogs they need. The February contract is nearly 50 cents higher late Monday morning. Deferred hog futures for the summer of 2013 are generally a little lower at midday.

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