Traders anticipating today's late-morning USDA reports

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Traders apparently expect today’s USDA reports to be bearish for grains. Corn futures have fallen sharply this week, due in part to favorable South American weather and poor U.S. But a big driver of the slide has been bearish expectations concerning the results of today’s USDA reports. Those will be released at 11:00 AM CST. March corn futures dipped 3.0 cents to $4.09/bushel early Friday morning, while May slid 2.5 to $4.1775/bushel.

Palm oil losses limited Thursday night soy gains. Despite favorable South American weather and prospects for very large bean crops in Brazil and Argentina, soybean and meal futures have held up rather well this week. Underlying optimism about U.S. export prospects has been boosted by several sales to China. Conversely, Asian palm oil weakness has persistently weighed upon the soyoil market. March soybeans rose 2.25 cents to $12.76/bushel in pre-dawn Friday trading, while March soyoil fell 0.21 cents to 37.75 cents/pound, and March soymeal added $2.2 to $416.5/ton.

International news may be supporting wheat futures this morning. Taiwanese buyers purchased 54,800 tonnes of U.S. wheat overnight. In addition, India was able to get a surprisingly good price for a sales tender last night. Those developments, as well as major premiums for high-protein spring wheat in Minneapolis, at least partially offset bearish expectations for the late-morning USDA reports. March CBOT wheat futures slipped 1.5 cents to $5.8275/bushel in early Friday action, while March KCBT wheat futures bounced 1.5 cents to $6.405, and March MWE futures gained 2.5 to $6.3175.

Record beef prices only slightly boosted cattle futures Thursday night. The cattle market seemed set to resume its late-2013 rally Thursday, especially with Chicago prices trading below last week’s late highs. That suggests significant trader doubts about the short-term outlook. That seemed evident again last night, since nearby futures edged only slightly higher despite having beef cutout values jump to record highs. February cattle futures inched up 0.10 cents to 136.65 cents/pound as Friday dawned over Chicago, and April futures gained 0.07 to 136.95. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures skidded 0.05 cents to 168.77 cents/pound, while May edged up 0.05 to 169.97.

Hog futures are trading firmly Friday morning. Ideas that the hog market is set for a technical and seasonal rally may be supporting CME prices this morning. Thursday’s late wholesale strength and mixed-to-firm cash quotes probably didn’t hurt either. February hogs climbed 0.45 cents to 85.70 cents/pound Thursday night, and June rose 0.12 to 100.72.

Cotton traders seemed to be rebalancing positions overnight. Traders have also seemed to be expecting bearish cotton data on today’s USDA reports, as exemplified by the sizeable ICE losses posted Wednesday and Thursday. Little fresh news emerged Thursday night, so we can probably assume the futures bounce reflected active short-covering/profit-taking ahead of their late-morning release. March cotton rallied 0.64 cents to 83.45 cents/pound just after sunrise Friday, and July cotton advanced 0.66 cents to 83.33.

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