U.S. dollar weakness seemed to boost ag futures Thursday morning

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Corn futures sustained their slight Wednesday gains overnight. Strength spilling over from the soybean market probably offered support for the yellow grain, as did the slippage suffered by the U.S. dollar in the wake of weak economic news. Relatively tight old crop supplies and the slow start to new crop plantings may be creating background support as well. May corn gained 4.75 cent to $6.4425/bushel in early Thursday morning trading, while December rose 1.25 cents to $5.2925.

Tight spot markets and a positive basis continue supporting soybean futures in the face of negative developments. Traders talk of slowing Chinese demand and increased availability of South American product, while bulls can argue that improved early-May weather will accelerate corn plantings and potentially reduce soybean acreage later in the spring. Asian palm oil prices reportedly reached two-week highs overnight, which probably boosted the soy complex as well. Finally, dollar weakness is supportive. May soybeans advanced 11.0 cents to $14.15/bushel early Thursday morning, while May soyoil surged 0.39 cents to 49.57 cents/pound, and May meal climbed $2.8 to $408.7/ton.

After numerous frosts over the Southern Plains in recent weeks, the frigid temperatures that hit that region Tuesday night finally seemed to persuaded futures traders that the damage being done was quite real. Thus, after edging higher Wednesday, wheat futures rose modestly again overnight. Concurrent corn and soy gains likely attracted additional buying, as did the large slide suffered by the U.S. dollar, since such currency losses lower the effective cost of American goods to export clients. May CBOT wheat rallied 4.25 cents to $6.96/bushel in pre-dawn Wednesday action, while May KCBT wheat added 7.5 cents to $7.465 and May MGE futures inched up 2.25 cents to $8.20.

Ideas that warming weather will boost demand for beef, as well as the wholesale strength early this week seemed to spark fresh buying in cattle futures Wednesday. Priced edged upward again Wednesday night in response to steady-higher wholesale quotes yesterday afternoon. Bulls are almost surely anticipating a bounce in cash cattle prices this week. Indeed, they probably expect more of the same during early May, when grocers often buy beef aggressively for Memorial Day features. June cattle rose 0.25 cents to 122.32 cents/pound early Thursday morning, while December added 0.10 cents to 127.57. May feeder cattle futures was buoyed 0.27 cents to 141.37 cents/pound, while August edged up 0.07 cents to 150.70.

Hog futures were mostly lower early Thursday morning, with only the expiring May future managing an increase. Their premiums to the CME lean hog index are probably limiting their upside potential at this juncture, especially after wholesale prices were essentially flat Wednesday afternoon. Still, anticipation of a spring demand surge will probably continue supporting the hog/pork complex over the short run. May hog futures progress moved up 0.05 cents to 88.65 cents/pound in early trading Thursday morning, while the June contract slipped 0.02 cents to 90.97.

There was little news concerning cotton futures overnight, which suggests other factors caused the modest rise posted early Thursday morning. The sizeable drop in the value of the dollar probably supported white fiber futures, since the currency weakness lowers the relative cost of American product on the international market. Also, cotton may simply have been due for a bounce in the wake of the large losses suffered Tuesday and Wednesday. Higher grain and soy future seem supportive as well. May cotton climbed 0.46 cents to 81.56 cents/pound in early Thursday morning electronic action, while December gained 0.26 cents to 83.68.

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