Grain/soy traders may be covering short positions before the weekend. The grain and soy complexes have lost considerable ground lately, with numerous contracts now trading at or near technically oversold levels. Traders seemed to be covering a portion of their short positions Thursday night, particularly with little fresh news having emerged. July corn edged up 0.5 cent to $4.495/bushel in early Friday trading, while December was flat at $4.4725.

Old-crop soy futures posted modest Thursday night gains. The soy complex suffered a big drop yesterday, but the move was probably exaggerated by technical considerations. The nearby bean and meal contracts seemingly bounced on short-covering last night, while apparent palm strength sparked across the board oil gains. Good new-crop harvest prospects continue weighing on deferred futures. July soybeans rose 3.75 cents to $14.6425/bushel soon after dawn Friday, while July soyoil rallied 0.23 cents to 38.92 cents/pound, and July soymeal added $1.7 to $492.3/ton.

The wheat markets also proved rather strong overnight. As with corn and beans, little fresh wheat news was published last night. Futures continued declining Thursday evening, but turned upward in the early-morning hours. Again, it seems as if traders are taking profits on shorts prior to the weekend. July CBOT wheat futures rebounded 3.5 cents to $6.0925/bushel Thursday, while July KCBT wheat advanced 6.5 cent to $7.205 and July MWE futures rose 4.25 cents to $6.9475.

Beef losses may be weighing on CME cattle prices. CME live cattle futures rose strongly Thursday in apparent anticipation of firm-higher cash prices before the weekend. The nearby contracts sustained the move overnight, but deferred futures turned a bit lower. That probably reflected the big wholesale losses posted yesterday afternoon. August cattle inched up 0.02 cent to 141.35 cents/pound early Friday morning, while December slid 0.12 cents to 147.50. Meanwhile, August feeder cattle jumped 0.72 cents to 200.55 cents/pound, and October climbed 0.50 to 201.02.

CME hog quotes posted varying gains Thursday night. Hog and pork traders continue expecting a big summer price surge, as indicated by the big premiums already built into July and August futures. Thursday afternoon cash strength seemed to justify that optimism, but declining pork values very likely limited the advance. August hog futures surged 0.45 cents at 128.65 cents/pound as Friday dawned over Chicago, while December stalled at 93.90.

Cotton futures are beginning Friday on a weak note. Unlike the grain and soy markets, cotton futures continued their recent slide Thursday night. As with the other crops, there was little fresh news, but one has to wonder if talk of rain across northern Texas is keeping pressure on prices. July cotton slipped 0.16 cents to 85.34 cents/pound shortly after sunrise Friday, while December cotton sank 0.17 to 77.45.