The crop markets staged a comeback Thursday night. Little news pertinent to the ag markets emerged overnight, so traders seemed to be evening up positions before the weekend. Bears are probably taking profits on recently established positions, while bulls are pulling in their horns after being battered the past three days. Corn bounced rather significantly after finding support at its 100-day moving average. March corn futures gained 3.5 cents to $3.835/bushel early Friday morning, while July moved up 3.5 to $3.97.
The soy complex posted general gains as well. As in the grain markets, little fresh soybeans came out Thursday night, although the weather models seem to be indicating growing dryness in center-south Brazil. That may have played a part in the bean and product gains. Asian palm losses were seemingly swamped by big crude gains posted overnight, so bean oil also rose. March soybean futures bounced 2.25 cents to $9.9325/bushel in predawn Friday action, while March soyoil stalled at 32.99 cents/pound, and March meal added $1.4 to $328.1/ton.
The wheat markets also advanced. One might argue that having the latest Ukrainian estimate of its wheat production fall slightly short of the Monday’s USDA figure offered support, but the difference seemed rather minimal. Similar to corn, the markets seem to be trying to rebound from chart support. March CBOT wheat climbed 4.25 cents to $5.37/bushel as Friday dawned over Chicago, while March KC wheat surged 6.5 cents to $5.795/bushel, but March MWE wheat advanced 4.5 to $5.855.
Falling cash prices dragged cattle futures downward yesterday. As implied by early-week CME losses, cash cattle prices fell sharply Thursday. Chicago prices reacted only slightly to the news, but turned decisively lower later in the day. Afternoon beef losses don’t bode particularly well for today’s opening either. February live cattle futures ended Thursday having plunged 1.55 cents to 154.20 cents/pound, while the April contract dropped 1.52 cents to 152.80. January and March feeder cattle futures plummeted the expanded 4.50-cent daily limit to 215.65 and 205.60 cents/pound, respectively.
CME hogs held up surprisingly well Thursday. Renewed optimism about the winter price outlook seemed to spur Wednesday’s big rebound in hog futures. Spot quote didn’t seem very supportive yesterday, but CME prices proved steady-mixed. Late afternoon reports were slightly lower, which seems likely to cause a firm Friday morning opening. February hog futures sank 0.40 cents to 75.62 cents/pound at their Thursday settlement, while June hogs dipped 0.32 cents to 87.92.
Cotton futures turned downward in early Friday action. New York cotton prices traded generally higher with the other crop markets in Thursday night activity, but turned decidedly lower soon after dawn. The reason for the drop wasn’t obvious, but one has to wonder if fresh losses in equity index futures depressed hopes for future apparel demand. March cotton futures slid 0.08 cents to 59.41 cents/pound Thursday, while the July contract sagged 0.07 to 61.18.