Soybeans led the crop markets higher Wednesday

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Corn futures were rather mixed Wednesday morning, but turned moderately higher later in the day. Strength spilling over from the soybean pit apparently boosted the market despite a general lack of news pertinent to corn values. The winter storm working its way across the country at this point, as well as those expected next week would seem to be improving prospects for the 2013 U.S. corn crop, but that seemingly did little to deter bullish buying. March corn rose 4.25 cents to $6.995/bushel at the daily close, while December rose 2.5 cents to $5.6025.

Although they suffered a midsession setback, soybean futures finished their Wednesday session quite strongly. Trader disappointment with second-quarter Argentine production prospects in the wake of the late shift toward persistent dryness probably supported the CBOT market. Others are reportedly reacting to renewed buying from Chinese interests, and particularly to the fact that they have been purchasing old-crop U.S. beans. March soybeans settled 10.25 cents higher, at $14.805 late Wednesday morning, while March soyoil fell 0.43 cents to 52.10 cents/pound, whereas March meal surged $6.5 to $431.8/ton on the day.

After slumping early in the day, wheat futures rallied Wednesday afternoon. The weather-driven decline was rather obviously caused by the storms expected to blanket large portions of the U.S. Winter Wheat Belt over the next week or so. However, later headlines were dominated by talk of improved export buying, particularly from Egypt. Those considerations, as well as the bullish leadership provided by the soybean market apparently carried the market higher. March CBOT wheat futures climbed 6.25 cents to $7.385/bushel at their Wednesday close, while March KCBT wheat jumped 8.0 cent to $7.77, and March MGE futures climbed 5.25 cents to $8.21.

Cattle futures suffered a substantial decline Wednesday. Traders had apparently come to expect another decline in country cattle prices this week, which undercut Chicago prices trading at substantial premiums. However, country cattle reportedly began trading around unchanged levels (at 123.00 cents/pound) around midsession, which probably sparked the modest CME bounce later in the day. Bulls may also have been counting upon early-week wholesale gains to continue during the days ahead. The drop was not encouraging, but the late bounce may give bears pause. April cattle plunged 1.32 cents to 128.22 cents/pound at the Wednesday close, while August dropped 1.07 cents to 125.52. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle plummeted 2.45 cents to 140.72 cents/pound, and August fell 2.62 cents to 153.80.

Hog futures proved quite weak early Wednesday, but ended the day slightly higher. The concurrent breakdown in cattle and feeder futures almost surely weighed upon the hog/pork complex. However, the main driver of the drop probably stemmed from the threat to export demand represented by the Chinese demand for independent testing of U.S. pork. Conversely, signs of firming wholesale prices, particularly Tuesday afternoon pork loin gains, probably brought the market back later in the day. April hogs slipped 0.10 cents to 82.95 cents/pound as the CME pit session wound down, while June rose 0.37 cents to 92.5.

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