Corn: Corn futures faced light pressure throughout the day and ended mid-range with losses mostly around 1 to 2 cents. Traders were unwilling to add long positions as they squared the books for month's end. While this morning's 1 MMT-plus export sales tally reminds of rebuilding demand, this has not been enough to offset a record-large 2013 corn crop. Also, a 7-cent slide in Gulf basis for December delivery this morning signals increased farmer sales.
Soybeans: The market spent the day within the upper part of Wednesday's trading range thanks to yet another daily soybean sales announcement this morning and impressive soybean export sales the week ended Nov. 21. Futures settled double-digit higher in the January and March contract, with deferred months seeing lighter gains. China accounted for the vast majority of the weekly buys as well as the daily sale. In addition, its efforts to stockpile domestic soybeans to boost prices for Chinese farmers should help keep demand for U.S. beans strong. Nevertheless, expectations for a large South American bean crop have made it tough for soybeans to break out of the top of the market's recent trading range.
Wheat: Wheat futures saw a choppy day of trade and the market ended likewise with SRW and HRW wheat steady to 6 cents higher and HRS wheat steady to 4 cents lower. Weekly wheat export sales of 562,200 MT came in near the upper end of pre-report trade expectations, but countering this was news International Grains Council raised its global wheat crop estimate by 2 MMT to 698 MMT. Light support also came from news Argentina's ag minister expects 2013-14 wheat production to total 8.5 MMT, which is below forecasts by private crop watchers.
Cotton: Cotton futures finished at or near session highs with gains of 80 to 139 points. Early support came from tepid demand for China's first auction of its state reserves, as end users bought just 51% of what was put up for auction. In addition, weekly cotton export sales were again strong at 265,700 MT, confirming still-solid export demand from China.
Hogs: Lean hog futures faced pressure for much of the day, but the market firmed heading into the close to finish high-range and narrowly mixed on the day. The lean hog market was initially pressured by recognition that hog weights remain record-high (weights in Iowa/southern Minnesota hit another record last week -- the fourth consecutive week of record weights). Nevertheless, packers paid steady to higher prices for market-ready hogs today as they are preparing for a large Saturday kill to make up for downtime Thursday. Strong pork movement despite a $1.52 gain in the pork cutout value today added to the positive tone.
Cattle: Live and feeder cattle futures posted slight gains to wrap up the week. The live cattle market benefited from $1 to $2 higher cash cattle trade in Kansas and northern locations Wednesday as well as ongoing gains in the boxed beef market. However, the 43-cent gain in Choice cuts and 8-cent rise for Select values this morning slowed movement to 66 loads. Boxed beef movement will remain in focus going forward.