Corn traders may be squaring positions before the weekend. After exhibiting considerable strength over the previous week, corn futures declined Thursday and continued sliding overnight. There seemed to be little real news, while the financial markets essentially stalled. Thus, we suspect Thursday night corn slippage simply marked the result of traders and funds squaring positions before the weekend and next Tuesday’s important USDA reports. May corn futures slipped 1.0 cent to $3.8975/bushel early Friday morning, while December lost 1.25 to $4.135.

The soy complex is trading unanimously lower. Soybean and product futures ended yesterday’s CBOT session generally mixed, with accelerated South American production apparently weighing on beans and meal and soyoil following crude oil slightly higher. Overnight crude and palm oil losses translated into the oil pit, while beans and meal continued slipping. AS in the grain markets, traders may be adjusting positions ahead of next Tuesday’s big reports, especially since many worry about a bearish soy acreage result. May soybean futures sagged 3.75 cents to $9.7075/bushel Thursday night, while May soyoil dipped 0.13 cents 31.04 cents/pound, and May meal skidded $1.6 to $320.8/ton.

The wheat markets edged upward Thursday night. Wheat futures were apparently swamped with bearish developments yesterday, with a poor Export Sales result and improved southern Plains moisture being the most pertinent. Nevertheless, the markets bounced slightly in the wake of yesterday’s breakdown, which, given the general lack of fresh news, suggests bears were taking profits before the weekend. May CBOT wheat rose 0.75 cent to $5.00/bushel in early Friday trading, while May KC wheat inched up 0.25 cent to $5.4325/bushel, and May MWE wheat gained 1.75 to $5.65.

Cattle futures responded poorly to Wednesday’s beef surge. CME traders seemed optimistic about short-term cattle prospects early this week, so a bullish reaction to Wednesday’s big wholesale advance seemed likely. Instead, futures turned downward from their firm opening, which may have reflected fresh doubts about the outcome of this week’s cash trading. Conversely, nearby futures edged upward in GLOBEX action, so a firm opening seems likely. April cattle futures slipped 0.05 cents to 161.67 cents/pound in late Thursday action, while August cattle stumbled 0.55 lower to 149.05 cents/pound. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle futures skidded 0.02 cents to 217.22 cents/pound, and August feeders sank 0.55 to 217.20.

Wholesale strength probably spurred Chicago hog buying. The cash hog markets remained weak Wednesday and reportedly continued sliding yesterday morning. However, pork cutout values rebounded strongly at noon, which clearly encouraged bulls. Seasonal factors seem to point to higher levels. Thursday afternoon spot quotes were generally higher, which bodes well for today’s opening. April hog futures climbed 1.15 cents to 60.97 cents/pound at Thursday’s CME close, while June hogs rallied 0.55 to 75.15.

Cotton futures proved steady-weak Thursday night. ICE cotton couldn’t take advantage of supportive export data yesterday, thereby setting a rather negative tone going into the weekend and next Tuesday’s USDA Prospective Plantings report. Traders may also be reacting to pre-report forecasts from industry analysts, since those reportedly averaged around 9.8 million acres, whereas recent estimates have tended to be lower. May cotton were unchanged at 63.08 cents/pound just after dawn Friday, while December futures edged 0.04 lower to 64.29.