Whipsawing cotton action highlighted Wednesday night trading

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Corn futures were narrowly mixed Wednesday night. Showers crossing the Midwest today and forecasts for spring-like conditions, including rainfall, in early April are weighing somewhat upon the grain markets at this point. Meanwhile, beans are offering spillover support. Thus, it isn’t terribly surprising to see corn futures have barely budged this morning. May corn inched up 0.5 cent to $4.85/bushel early Thursday morning, while December slid 0.5 to $4.835.

Continued talk of domestic tightness is boosting the soy complex. The U.S. soybean market reportedly remains quite tight despite last year’s big crop, which reemphasizes the underlying strength of demand. Beans and meal posted impressive gains again overnight and dragged oil futures upward in the face of renewed Asian palm weakness. May soybeans rallied 7.75 cents to $14.4775/bushel in early Thursday trading, while May soyoil edged up 0.06 cent to 40.79 cents/pound, and May soymeal added $4.6 to $473.7/ton.

Improving weather seems to be depressing wheat prices. Dry conditions across the Great Plains have boosted the wheat markets lately. However, rains crossing the country at this point, as well as forecasts for wetter and warmer conditions in early April are apparently boosting crop prospects, which in turn are depressing golden grain values. May CBOT wheat futures slid 3.25 cents to $6.935/bushel Wednesday night, while May KCBT wheat futures tumbled 4.25 cents to $7.67 and May MWE futures sank 4.0 cents to $7.4275.

Cattle futures gave back a portion of Wednesday’s gains. News that Nebraska has posted a $2.00/cwt weekly advance Tuesday evening boosted CME prices rather sharply yesterday. Nevertheless, traders continue looking for a seasonal price peak in the near future, so they reacted rather poorly to mixed wholesale news later in the day. April cattle futures dipped 0.47 cents to 145.32 cents/pound in predawn Thursday action, while August slumped 0.32 cents to 134.52. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle climbed 0.45 cents to 179.07 cents/pound, and August gained 0.15 to 180.67.

Wednesday afternoon reports boosted hog futures. Talk of cash and wholesale weakness weighed heavily upon hog futures Wednesday morning, but the market bounced back later in the day. The rise probably anticipated more supportive results on late-day cash and wholesale reports. That also seems to explain the modest CME gains posted Wednesday night. April hog futures surged 0.95 cents to 123.42 early Thursday morning, while June ran up 0.62 to 126.92.

Chinese news whipsawed cotton futures again overnight. Cotton futures have proven hugely volatile this week as competing stories have emerged on both sides of the market. The USDA’s Brazilian attaché forecast a big production increase from that country Wednesday afternoon, which sparked a dive in ICE fiber prices. The market rebounded overnight in seeming response to news China’s government will require mills to buy more cotton from state reserves in order to get import allowances. May cotton jumped 1.95 cents to 93.61 cents/pound just after dawn (EDT) Thursday, while December cotton bounced 0.54 to 79.84.

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