Corn futures closed slightly higher on Friday. In light volume trade, short-covering and spillover support from soybeans helped pull prices higher into the close. Strength in equities and the stock market were supportive factors. The USDA attaché in Argentina lowered its production estimate for the corn crop to 21.8 million tonnes compared to SUDA’s official January estimate of 26 million tonnes. March closed 1 1/2 cents higher at $6.44 1/2 and May was 1 1/4 cents higher at $6.50 3/4.
Soybean futures were solidly higher on Friday. The market rallied for the fourth consecutive day and hit three-month highs amid firm cash markets and reduced production forecasts for South America. The USDA attaché in Argentina lowered its soybean production estimate for Argentina to 46.5 million metric tons from 50.5 million previously. Drought earlier in the growing season has hampered yield prospects although conditions have improved this week. March closed 15 1/2 cents higher at $12.32 1/2 and May was 15 1/4 cents higher at $12.40 3/4.
Wheat futures were mostly lower on Friday. Winter wheat markets were pressured by profit-taking after the strong gains earlier this week. The market was supported this week by concern about winterkill to the winter wheat crop due to cold temperatures in eastern Europe and Russia. But moderating temperatures have eased the concern for now. CBOT March ended 2 cents lower at $6.60 3/4, KCBT March was 5 cents lower at $7.12 3/4 while MGE March was 2 1/2 cents higher at $8.38 1/2.
Cattle futures traded strongly lower on Friday. The futures market was pressured by ideas that the cash market would be lower for the week. Packers are in need of cattle, but poor margins have led to reduced slaughter schedules. A snowstorm in the Plains could hamper feedlot operations in some parts, but recent forecast have dialed back the area and amount of snow predicted. February ended $1.53 lower at $123.63 and April was $1.50 lower at $127.40.
Lean hog futures closed mostly lower on Friday. The market was choppy during the session, but closed lower. Poor packer margins and some reduced slaughter by packers is limiting strength in the cash market. However, losses were limited by some cash market strength this week. Seasonally tightening market ready supplies and some strong wholesale demand for hams were supportive factors this week. February ended 5 cents lower at $87.53 and April was 83 cents lower at $88.93.