Price action: Corn finished mid-range, which was good for 2- to 3-cent gains in most contracts.
Fundamental analysis: Focus in the market was on position squaring ahead of Friday's USDA data. While it seems a bit early for traders to be evening positions, there's little other fresh news for the market to digest and traders don't want to be caught on the wrong side of the market since previous January reports have triggered sharp price moves.
Traders expect USDA to trim the size of the 2012 crop slightly, but to raise carryover from last month due to lackluster demand. The Grain Stocks Report is often the "wildcard" as it's a true reflection of the usage pace.
Technical analysis: March corn futures remain within the boundaries of the downtrend established in late November. The contract needs to return above $7.20 to hint of a near-term low being in the works. Violation of support at yesterday's low of $6.78 could trigger sell stops, making bears' next target the $6.50 level.
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 were choppy throughout the day and didn't stray too far from unchanged and settled narrowly mixed. Meal was firmer amid spreading with soyoil, which was lower.
Fundamental analysis: Upside potential throughout the day was limited by strength in the dollar index and forecasts for rains in dry areas of northern Brazil and more favorable planting conditions in areas of Argentina. But pressure was limited as traders have begun to even positions ahead of Friday's key USDA reports. Traders look for USDA to raise the size of the soybean crop slightly and for carryover to climb by around 5 million bu. from last month. The Grain Stocks Report should reflect strong usage in the past quarter.
Technical analysis: March soybean futures spent the day pivoting around yesterday's high of $13.89 1/2 and closed just beneath it. Futures remain within the boundaries of the downtrend established from the December high and must return above $14.40 to signal a near-term low is in the works. Support is at last week's low of $13.56.
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 favored a firmer tone throughout the day, but Chicago and Minneapolis futures ended marginally to 2 cents lower. Kansas City wheat ended 2 to 3 cents higher.
Fundamental analysis: Without fresh news to digest, wheat remained in a follower's role to corn. Short-covering in the corn pit aided wheat most of the day, but futures softened into the close. Kansas City wheat remained firmer despite forecasts for widespread rain across the Southern Plains beginning today and continuing tomorrow.
Price action will likely remain choppy this week as traders' focus is on evening positions ahead of Friday's key USDA reports. Traders look for the winter wheat seedings data to show all winter wheat acreage up around 1.3 million from last year at 42.6 million acres. Traders also expect USDA to tightened carryover slightly from last month.
Technical analysis: March Chicago wheat posted an inside-day-down on the daily chart. The low-range close gives bears the upper hand heading into the overnight session. The contract remains within the boundaries of the steep downtrend established from the November high and must climb above $7.90 to signal a near-term low is in the works. Support lies at last week's low of $7.39 3/4.
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 softened into the close to finish 55 to 78 points lower.
Fundamental analysis: Strength in the dollar index weighed on cotton futures, as did a lack of fresh news. Traders' focus is on evening positions ahead of USDA's key reports on Friday morning. Traders expect the data to reflect improved demand for U.S. cotton, although supplies remain abundant.
Traders also noted hot and dry conditions across Australia's cotton belt as a concern, although this provided only limited support as global supplies are seen as plentiful.
Technical analysis: March cotton futures posted an inside day of trade on the daily chart. The low-range close gives bears more momentum heading into tomorrow's open. Near-term boundaries are support at last week's low of 73.72 cents and resistance at the December high of 77.10 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.