Weather news is affecting the ag markets

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Talk of increased demand is seemingly boosting corn prices. The corn continued rising Thursday morning, with traders citing strong livestock demand for feed in current frigid conditions, as well as improved usage by ethanol producers. Futures may also be responding to diminished rainfall in the latest South American forecasts. March corn rallied 3.5 cents to $4.2975/bushel around midsession Thursday, while May rose 2.75 to $4.3575/bushel.

South American developments are probably supporting the soy complex. After tumbling in response to predicted South American rainfall earlier this week, soybean and product futures are apparently deriving support from drier forecasts for Brazil and Argentina. Wire service reports also cite a lack of Chinese switching from U.S. to South American bean purchases, thereby contradicting recent bearish talk. March soybean futures climbed 6.25 cents to $12.8575/bushel by late Thursday morning, while March soyoil gained 0.31 cents to 38.15 cents/pound, and March soymeal edged up $1.8 to $421.2/ton.

Cold weather forecasts are boosting the wheat markets. Talk of robust export demand continues supporting wheat futures, but the main impetus for the today’s gains almost surely stems from the latest weather forecasts. Those reflect fresh predictions for arctic weather over much of the country into early February, thereby increasing the chances for freeze damage to winter wheat. March CBOT wheat futures surged 9.5 cents to $5.7075/bushel just before lunchtime Thursday, while March KCBT wheat futures jumped 11.5 cents to $6.3625, and March MWE futures ran up 9.25 to $6.26.

Cattle futures lost their upward momentum Thursday morning. News that beef packers paid $150/cwt (cents/pound) for fed cattle Wednesday boosted CME futures overnight. However, the afternoon beef report suggested prices are stalling. Given the size of the recent price spike, it isn’t terribly surprising to see futures struggling today. February cattle futures skidded 0.20 cents to 143.47 cents/pound late Thursday morning, while April futures dove 0.92 to 140.87. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures dropped 0.82 cents to 169.55 cents/pound, and May fell 0.87 to 170.62.

Premiums continue hampering bullish efforts in hog futures. The hog and pork markets have proven mixed to moderately stronger lately. However, widespread anticipation of a much larger move has kept CME futures supported at significantly higher levels. Thus, mediocre cash/pork news has maintained downward pressure upon Chicago prices. February hogs slipped 0.07 cents to 85.47 cents/pound as the lunchtime looming in Chicago Thursday, while June sagged 0.07 to 101.92.

Technical factors seem to be affecting cotton futures. A Chinese cotton industry association released several reports and statements overnight, most of which held price supportive connotations. However, ICE traders essentially ignored them all. Futures dipped in response to a seemingly bearish reversal signal posted Wednesday, but rebounded by midsession. March cotton slumped 0.05 cents to 87.79 cents/pound just before noon (EST) Thursday, whereas July cotton added 0.11 cents to 87.78.

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