Corn futures were higher Tuesday. March futures cleared the $6.00 mark, reaching the highest level for a nearby contract since July 2008. Argentine weather is seen as positive for prices. Showers over the weekend alleviated dryness in some areas, but not universally. More light rain is forecast through Friday before warmer, drier conditions set in next week. Argentine weather is becoming increasingly important as early planted corn moves toward pollination. Not much direction from the outside markets for corn. Crude oil was higher along with the dollar index. March corn closed 2 3/4 cents higher at $6.02 1/4. May corn settled 3 1/4 cents higher at $6.10 1/4.
Soybean futures closed higher Tuesday. Prices hit a five and a half week today. The market was supported by concerns that dryness and high temperatures in the 90 degree range in Argentina might damage the crop. Although there has been some rain and more showers are in the forecast, this is not enough to relieve the strain on the crop. Adding pressure to the soy complex was news that workers at an Argentine soy crushing facility in Rosario went on an indefinite strike today. Favorable weather in Brazil limited gains. January was 11 cents higher at $13.26 1/4 and March was 10 1/2 cents higher at $13.37 1/2. New-crop November was up 71/4 cents at $12.49 3/4 cents.
Wheat futures finished mostly lower Tuesday. Prices slipped as harvest in Australia makes some progress. Reports that the Australian wheat crop might not be in quite as bad shape as previously thought added pressure. However, supplies are still tight, which kept futures well supported. CBOT March was down 4 1/2 cents at $7.65, KCBT March was 1/2 of a cent higher at $8.26 1/2 and MGE March was 1 3/4 cents lower at $8.57 3/4.
Cattle futures closed higher after a lower start. Speculative buying interest seems to have contributed to the price strength along with gains in the stocks market. Beef prices were mixed at midday. Futures have staged a solid recovery rally over the past three trading sessions. No cash trade has been reported yet this week. January feeder cattle futures have moved to a record high above $120. February cattle were 57 cents higher at $105.80 and April was 72 cents higher at $109.52.
Lean hog futures settled lower Tuesday. Prices were pressured by weakness in cutouts as well as the cash market. Traders are already liquidating some positions with the approaching holiday, Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report and year-end. Activity is expected to remain fairly light. Packers appear to have most of their needs already met, with lighter demand ahead of the holiday. Expectations for supplies to tighten in early 2011 is friendly for prices. February was 10 cents lower at $75.98 and April is 15 cents lower at $80.40.