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Overnight highlights. Following are highlights of overnight trade and opening calls:
Corn: 1 to 3 cents higher. Corn saw followthrough buying after yesterday's high-range close, as well as support from improved country and Gulf basis levels and slight weakness in the U.S. dollar index. March corn futures are just beneath resistance at the January high of $6.64 1/4. A high-range close for the month would be a positive technical signal. Focus in the market today will be on end-of-the-month position squaring.
Soybeans: 2 to 3 cents higher. Futures are poised to post strong monthly gains -- avoiding the traditional "February break" given improved demand from China this month which put urgency behind traders' bid for more soybean acres. A monthly close above $13.00 for the March contract would be a strong technical signal, opening additional near-term upside potential. Next resistance is the 62% retracement of the decline from the August high at $13.34.
Wheat: 2 to 7 cents higher. Wheat futures saw followthrough from yesterday's late-session surge higher, as wheat plays catchup to corn and soybeans. While corn trended sidelines in February and soybeans surged, wheat posted a mid-month break and is still working to recover to near the February high. News the European Central Bank will lend to European banks to prevent a credit crunch, weighed slightly on the U.S. dollar index this morning, which is supportive for commodity markets.
Live cattle: Mixed. Futures were weaker yesterday on concerns the beef market has moved too high too fast, as movement of the product has slowed. Choice beef values were up 9 cents yesterday (a new high) and Select rose 69 cents on decent movement of 208 loads. April live cattle penetrated uptrending support drawn off December and February reaction lows, but closed just above this trendline. The contract is currently trading below the starting point for the month.
Lean Hogs: Mixed. Hog futures are expected to be mixed today as traders focus on evening positions to end the month. Pork cutout values were steady yesterday, but movement improved to 138.13 loads of cuts. There is still concern about the lack of strong ham buying for Easter features, but traders still expect it is just around the corner. The cash market is expected to be mostly steady today, but there is also concern about packers' negative profit margins. April lean hog futures are currenty trading below the starting point for the month.