Corn prices settled higher on Wednesday. Futures were steady to lower in early going, but turned up on stronger weekly ethanol production and higher soybean prices. 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 settled 5 3/4 cents lower at $7.57 3/4. December 2013 was 3 3/4 cents higher at $6.45 1/2.
Soybean prices extended the bull market Wednesday on continuing concerns about production risks in Argentina. January settled near its high for the day. There is more news of flooding fields in Argentina with implications that means significant delays before soybean plantings will be completed. Rumors continued 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. At the close, January beans were up 23 3/4 cents at $14.79 1/4. November 2013 gained 17 3/4 cents at $13.32.
Wheat futures finally managed to finish the way they started; stronger. The previous two days futures have opened stronger but closed lower. Today was different. The chronic wet weather has most definitely hurt the Argentine crop. It is only one third harvested; significant acreage was reportedly lost altogether due to flooding, and now disease and head sprouting in un-harvested wheat is a growing problem. This supports continued confidence that lagging U.S. export sales are going to pick up in time to sustain the USDA current export forecast. At the close, CBOT March was up 3 1/2 at $8.60; KCBT March was up 5 1/4 at $9.07 3/4,and MGE March was up 3 at $9.32 1/4.
Cattle futures closed higher. Feeder cattle posted solid gains. 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. February cattle closed 37 cents higher at $130.52, while January feeders were only 82 cents higher $146.40.
The ongoing surge in wholesale pork values seemed set to continue Wednesday after the USDA reported that ham prices had risen to a fresh 2012 high at 85 cents/pound at midday. Expiring December futures surged to its highest level since early March in response, whereas the 2013 contracts were mixed as traders anticipated the usual pre-Christmas breakdown in ham values. The market continues expecting a combination of diminishing production and robust demand to support the hog and pork complex in 2013. December futures rose 0.55 cents to 85.05 cents/pound on the day, while the February contract advanced just 0.12 cents to 85.70.