Ag markets are trading tentatively to start the week

Corn futures began the week poorly. Last Friday's news that the EPA is proposing a cut in the ethanol mandate in 2014 and beyond seemed to have a spillover effect Sunday night. In addition, a major South Korean user split a large tender between U.S. and Black Sea origin corn, which may have negative implications for U.S. export prospects. December corn futures declined 5.5 cents to $4.165/bushel in early Monday trading, while May dipped 4.5 to $4.34.

The soy complex is decidedly mixed to start this week. Talk of improved South American growing conditions and a large acreage forecast for the 2014 U.S. crop sent the soy complex tumbling last Friday. Futures traded mixed to lower overnight, with beans seeming to bounce slightly from oversold levels. Asian vegoil weakness appeared to undercut oil, whereas meal prices were mixed. January soybean futures were unchanged at $12.805/bushel just after dawn Monday, while December soyoil slipped 0.06 cents to 40.41 cents/pound, and December soymeal skidded $0.5 to $410.0/ton.

Traders seem to be bottom-picking in the wheat pits. Talk of low-ball bidding at weekend wheat tenders seemed negative for the golden grain markets, but prices actually rose slightly in early Monday action. Wire service sources cited bottom-picking for the bounce, since futures do seem to trying to turn upward from depressed levels. December CBOT wheat futures edged up 0.25 cent to $6.4475/bushel early Monday morning, while December KCBT wheat futures added 0.75 cent to $6.99, and December MWE futures inched 0.75 higher to $6.975.

Cash strength boosted cattle futures last Friday. Wholesale beef prices moved inconsistently last week, but cattle futures remained generally firm as traders anticipated cash gains before the weekend. Those expectations were met around noon Friday (with trading around $132/cwt), which very likely boosted futures somewhat into the close. December cattle futures settled 0.42 cents higher at 133.40 cents/pound in late Friday trading, while April futures rose 0.07 to 135.02. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle ran up 0.62 cents to 165.82 cents/pound, and March feeders lifted 0.55 cents to 165.45.

Tight hog supplies seemed to support hog futures before the weekend. Cash hog and wholesale pork quotes declined at midsession last Friday, but that seemingly did little to deter CME bulls. The late-week rise probably reflected industry optimism. That probably reflected talk that the weekly slaughter total would once again fall below the comparable year-ago rate, thereby implying persistently tight supplies. December hog futures gained 0.30 cents to 85.90 cents/pound at their Friday close, while April added 0.35 to 92.45.

Cotton futures remained firm again Sunday night. News that Chinese officials bought very modest amounts of cotton for state reserves last week did little to undercut ICE futures again last night. Traders seem to think Chinese buying will be "playing catch-up during the weeks ahead. December cotton rose 0.04 cents to 77.16 cents/pound around sunrise Monday, while March cotton was steady at 78.20.


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