Price action: Corn futures closed 7 1/4 to 11 1/2 cents higher through the September contract. New-crop futures were 6 cents higher.
Fundamental analysis: Corn futures were supported by short-covering amid ideas recent price pressure has been overdone. Additional support came from the cash market. Basis at the Gulf and across the countryside is firming, suggesting there's increased demand for corn. With supplies tight and farmers that are still holding corn not likely to sell unless there's a sharp rally, basis should continue to firm -- if there indeed is increased demand.
The other factor that supported March corn futures today is positioning ahead of first notice day on Thursday. Traders holding short positions are getting out (or rolling them) ahead of the delivery process.
Technical analysis: The drop below $6.90 sparked short-covering in May corn futures, just as it did in early January. To confirm a short-term low, the contract must push above the psychological $7.00 mark and find fresh buying interest. Key support lies at the January low at $6.78 1/2.
Hedgers: 100% sold on 2012-crop in the cash market -- 10% for March 2013 delivery. No 2013-crop sales recommended yet.
Cash-only marketers: 75% sold on 2012-crop --10% for March 2013 delivery; 15% for May 2013 delivery. No 2013-crop sales recommended yet.
Price action: Soybean futures faced pressure overnight and for much of today's session. But futures did move well off their lows into the close to settle around 3 to 4 cents lower in old-crop futures while deferred months saw losses of roughly 6 to 10 cents. Soymeal posted slight gains for the day, while soyoil ended with sharp losses.
Fundamental analysis: Brazil port workers have pledged not to strike ahead of March 15 and a record large South American bean crop is expected to hit the global market soon. This encouraged traders to unwind some long-soybeans, short-corn spreads today. These supplies are expected to slow what has been red-hot demand for a very small U.S. bean crop. Softer Gulf basis levels this morning and a relatively light export inspections tally yesterday confirm such ideas. The winter storm event that moved into the Corn Belt today added to the negative tone as it will help ease drought conditions in the region.
But traders are also hesitant to be active sellers as South America is no stranger to logistic troubles. Plus, it is much too early in the growing season to count on a rebound in 2013-14 bean production in the United States.
Technical analysis: May soybean futures were little changed for the day. Thus, support remains at the psychological $14.00 mark, closely followed by the February low of $13.93 1/2. Last week's high of $14.97 remains bulls' initial target.
Hedgers: 100% sold on 2012-crop in the cash market. No futures/options positions at this time. No 2013-crop sales advised yet.
Cash-only marketers: 75% sold on 2012-crop production for harvest delivery. No 2013-crop sales advised yet.
Price action: Wheat futures were choppy today, pulled between strength in the corn market and weakness in soybeans. In the end, wheat futures at all three exchanges were mostly firmer, with old-crop Chicago wheat leading gains and closing 5 3/4 to 6 1/2 cents higher.
Fundamental analysis: Strength in the corn market helped limit pressure from improved moisture across the Plains. Some areas of the HRW Wheat Belt saw record-setting snow, which will help dent the long-lasting drought. Monthly state crop reports reflect some crop improvement, although ratings are still worse than year-ago.
Meanwhile, news that suggests winterkill across Russia is worse than normal is being watched by the market given the country's tight wheat stocks situation.
Technical analysis: May Chicago wheat futures posted a new for-the-move low of $6.97 3/4 before recovering into the close to return above the $7.10 level. Today's low is initial support, followed by the June low of $6.79. To signal a near-term low is in place, the contract needs to return above at least the $7.50 level.
Hedgers: 75% sold on 2012-crop in the cash market. No 2013-crop sales advised yet.
Cash-only marketers: 75% of 2012-crop is sold. No 2013-crop sales advised yet.
Price action: Cotton futures were choppy today and ended near session lows with gains of 3 to 35 points.
Fundamental analysis: Cotton futures favored the upside through much of the day, but as the dollar strengthened, cotton futures trimmed gains. Traders are keeping a close eye on outside markets as they weigh the risks of Congress allowing sequestration to go into effect on Friday against improved fundamentals. Traders are also closely monitoring the Italian political situation, which is in flux. As a result, there was too much uncertainty in the marketplace today, making cotton traders uncomfortable about actively adding long positions.
Meanwhile, sources report the recent easing of prices has resulted in a pickup in Chinese buying interest of U.S. cotton. But Chinese mills are filling some of their needs with yarn purchases, which they can import duty-free.
Technical analysis: May cotton futures saw two-sided trade and spent much of the day pivoting around support at yesterday's low of 81.68 cents, which closely aligns with a 25% retracement of the rally from the November low to the February high. Closes below this support would make 79.80 cents -- a 38% retracement -- bears' next target. Resistance is at last week's high of 85.24 cents.
Hedgers: 50% priced on expected 2012-crop production in the cash market.
Cash-only marketers: 50% priced on expected 2012-crop production in the cash market.