Corn, soybean markets lower at midday

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Corn futures are lower at midsession. Thursday’s poor export sales figure has stirred concern about demand. The selling pressure pushed futures below Thursday’s low and the 50 day moving average which has trigged additional technically based selling, driving March futures to a 2 1/2 week low. After some recent buying, traders are also evening positions ahead of USDA’s December 11 supply and demand update. The trade expects USDA to boost projected carryover by 15-20 million bushels from 647 million in November, probably based on lower exports. The March contract is 12 cents lower at $7.39 1/2. December 2013 is 7 1/4 cents lower at $6.36 1/2.

Soybean and its products were all trading lower by midmorning. The soybean market actually reversed gains occurring overnight that had lifted the January contract to within a whisker of the $15 benchmark. Soybean prices broke lower in the half hour following the release of the monthly employment report and have traded weakly since then. The dollar has been stronger today, which can be a bearish influence. USDA did announce that China bought 115,000 tonnes. Heavy rains hit areas of Argentina again. January beans were down 8 1/4 cents at $14.83. November 2013 beans were down 3 1/2 cents at $13.31 1/2.

Wheat futures have only added to early losses in midday trade Friday. If Argentina’s woes are going to benefit the U.S. in shifting global export business our way, one might think ongoing reports would show more evidence of such a shift. U.S. export sales year-to-date lag where they “should” be to warrant USDA’s current forecast for 1.1 billion bu. in 2012-13. In fact, the gap widened out another 10 million bu. in Thursday’s weekly sales report, to 220 million. However, producers in the U.S. southern Plains are growing increasingly pessimistic about survivability of their poorly-established crop. Some pundits are warning that up to a fourth of the acreage in some large portions of wheat country may not survive even a normal winter. At midday, CBOT March is down 5 3/4 at $8.56 1/4, KCBT March is down 4 3/4 at $9.07 1/4 and MGE March is down 4 3/4 at $9.30 1/2.

News that Russia seems prepared to halt imports of U.S. beef and pork that haven’t been tested for the growth promotant ractopamine undercut CME live cattle futures Friday morning. This could represent a serious issue since Russia has become a significant importer of American red meat. Talk that the deadline on this issue arrives this weekend probably weighed upon prices as well. Given the relative weakness of beef demand at current elevated prices, an embargo upon sales to Russia could further depress the cattle market. February futures declined 0.52 cents to 130.52, while its April counterpart fell 0.65 cents to 134.30 cents/pound.

The news of potential restrictions on Russian imports of American beef and pork also depressed CME lean hog futures. Indeed, the drug concerned, ractopamine, is probably more heavily used for hogs than for cattle, which may partially explain the relatively large hog losses. Unfortunately for bullish interests and for producers, this comes at a time when the market was already suffering increasing pressure from seasonally large production and the traditional ham market breakdown as grocers complete their purchases for the holiday season. This may bode quite ill for the short-term outlook. February hogs fell 1.15 cents to 83.30 cents/pound, while June futures 0.67 cents at 98.35 cents/pound.

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