Corn futures were higher Monday. March futures cleared the $6.00 mark, rallying to a six week high. Corn continues to find support from concern over tight U.S. supplies, dryness in Argentina and the need for additional corn plantings in 2011. The outside markets had a mixed impact with crude oil turning higher along with gains in the dollar index. Weekly export inspections at 27 million bushels were a little below expectations. March corn was 3 cents higher at $5.99 1/2. May corn closed 2 3/4 cents higher at $6.07.
Soybean futures were sharply higher at the close. Gains came on continuing concerns about the risk of soybean crop damage in Argentina. Despite generally favorable weekend rains in the northern half of the belt, traders concentrated more on high temperature readings that have soared well into the 90-degree range. Oil World cut its Argentine production forecast to 47 million tonnes. USDA announced weekly soybean inspections at 44.6 million bushels, and those were larger than expected. Further, the previous week was revised higher by 11 million bushels to an identical 44.6 million. January gained 16 1/2 cents at $13.15 1/4 and March added 16 1/2 cents at $13.27.
Wheat settled higher Monday. Ongoing concerns about the quality of the Australian wheat crop helped boost prices again today. Also, Russian officials are indicating that the wheat export embargo could extend beyond July 1, 2011, depending on the size of the crop. In addition to weather, it appears delays in the distribution of fertilizer are adding to their woes. Weekly U.S. wheat export inspections were at the high end of expectations at 23 million bushels. CBOT March was 12 3/4 cents higher at $7.69 1/2, KCBT March closed 14 1/4 cents higher at $8.26 and MGE March settled 17 1/2 cents higher at $8.59 1/2.
Cattle futures were higher on Monday. Futures were lower early but bounced back modestly by midmorning and held gain into the close. Higher grain prices seemed to inspire the higher trade, despite lower cash trade last week. Friday’s Cattle on Feed report was neutral to a bit negative for prices on slightly higher than expected placements. Feedlots are current, but light fed cattle sales last week may translate into additional cattle to market in holiday shortened trade this week. February cattle were 72 cents higher at $105.22 and April was 65 cents higher at $108.80.
Lean hog futures closed slightly higher Monday. Futures bounced back from early losses. Traders pointed to prospects for tighter supplies by early 2011. However, packer demand for hogs is seen as moderate to light this week in the face of the shortened holiday trading week. This could pressure the cash market. February was 12 cents higher at $76.07 and April was 7 cents higher at $80.55.
Cotton futures closed sharply higher with limit gains scored in the old-crop months. The strong U.S. market followed large gains overnight in the Chinese market. Worries persisted about the long-term adequacy of trade supplies if India restricts additional exports. The U.S. is tracking toward the least stocks since 1925, but demand has shown little tendency to contract despite record prices. March futures set a new life-of-contract high as it closed up the 400 point limit at 154.12 cents. May closed limit higher at 142.39 cents.