Wednesday's equity surge is supporting the ag markets

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Surging equities are supporting the ag markets. Little fresh news concerning the crop markets emerged Wednesday night, but prices were generally higher. That probably reflects the huge stock market advance posted in the wake of the Fed’s decision to begin tapering its bond buying program. This all reflects general optimism about the economic outlook, which in turn implies robust demand. Nearby corn futures rose slightly, whereas the deferred contracts slipped. March and May corn futures inched up 0.5 cent to $4.255 and $4.34/bushel, respectively, in early Thursday trading.

The soy complex posted a general advance. As in the grain pits, soybean and product prices responded well to the improved economic/financial environment. Traders are probably reluctant to trade aggressively at this point, since the weekly Export Sales report comes out later this morning. The overnight rise in Asian palm values seemingly supported oil and bean prices as well. January soybeans rose 3.0 cents to $13.27/bushel in pre-dawn Thursday action, while January soyoil gained 0.05 cents to 39.11 cents/pound, and January soymeal climbed $2.8 to $444.0/ton.

The wheat markets are trying to halt their decline. The excessive supply situation has weighed heavily upon wheat futures lately, but the golden grain market also rebounded slightly last night. Overnight news was mixed, with a downward revision to U.K. production estimates seemingly being offset by news that U.S. wheat was shut out of a large Iraqi tender. March CBOT wheat futures edged 0.75 cent to $6.135/bushel early Thursday morning, while March KCBT wheat futures advanced 1.5 cents to $6.5525, and March MWE futures added 1.0 to $6.4775.

Demand optimism may be boosting cattle futures. Beef values dipped again Wednesday, which may have played a part in undercutting country cattle prices as well. CME futures suffered big Wednesday losses as a consequence. However, nearby futures bounced modestly overnight, which may have reflected increased optimism about the demand outlook in the wake of the huge equity market rally. February cattle futures bounced 0.02 cents to 132.37 cents/pound as Thursday dawned over Chicago, while April futures rose 0.12 cents to 133.57. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle futures surged 0.32 cents to 166.37 cents/pound and March added 0.05 to 165.90.

Hog traders also seem optimistic. Tuesday’s cash hog quotes were surprisingly strong, thereby sparking a strong Wednesday rally. That was probably exaggerated by the stock market surge. The idea that the hog/pork complex is posting a seasonal low may explains the mixed response to the cash and wholesale weakness posted yesterday afternoon. February hog futures slid 0.05 cents to 86.30 cents/pound in early Thursday trading, and June slumped 0.02 to 99.90.

Cotton futures seem stuck between competing forces. The strong equity index response to the implied improvement in the U.S. and global economies is almost surely supporting cotton futures, since improved apparel demand would probably spark cotton usage. However, nearby ICE futures have been struggling against tough chart resistance lately. A push out of the tight range occupied lately could spark a big follow-through move in that direction. March cotton crept up 0.10 cents to 83.10 cents/pound around sunrise (EST) Thursday, but July cotton skidded 0.01 cent to 82.44.

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