Corn futures got off to a narrowly mixed start, but the market has since improved to post gains around a penny.
- A quiet news day for corn is leaving traders to engage in some position evening today.
- The March contract continues to struggle to sustain buying interest above $4.50. However, it has also found support at $4.40.
- Yesterday's reminder of strong corn demand via weekly export inspections remains an underlying source of support. Traders are anticipating a strong weekly export sales figure on Friday morning.
- Gulf corn basis is steady this morning for immediate delivery but is 4 cents stronger for May delivery, reminding of solid demand.
Soybean futures are 2 to 4 cents lower this morning.
- Soybean futures are seeing some mild profit-taking after yesterday's strong gains.
- Scattered rain in the forecast for Brazil is adding light pressure to the bean market. However, private crop estimates of late have indicated some drought-related crop damage has already occurred.
- On the other hand, Brazil's crushing industry group Abiove raised its estimate of the country's soybean crop by 1 MMT to 88.6 MMT.
- Gulf soybean basis is 5 cents higher for immediate delivery, possibly indicating more demand news is ahead.
- Selling interest is also being limited by the fact China has yet to make a major U.S. soybean order cancellation, though this is widely expected to occur eventually.
Wheat futures are for the most part fractionally to 2 cents higher across all three flavors this morning.
- Crop concerns are giving bulls an edge in the wheat market today. But mild strength in the U.S. dollar index has encouraged some light profit-taking at times.
- Dry conditions in the Southern Plains have resulted in another 3-percentage point increase in the amount of Texas winter wheat rated "poor" to "very poor" to 44%. In addition, temps in the 90s in some areas of Texas today are expected to further stress the crop.
- Meanwhile, another winter storm event is expected to bring snow to the nation's midsection tomorrow. A recent warm-up has eroded snowcover in northern regions.
- Gulf SRW wheat basis is 2 to 5 cents weaker for nearby delivery, while HRW basis is 2 cents higher for nearby delivery.
Live cattle futures are off to a choppy start with the February through August contracts slightly to moderately higher and far-deferred months slightly lower. Feeder cattle futures are slightly higher.
- Live cattle futures are seeing some light profit-taking in far-deferred contracts today after impressive gains Tuesday.
- But the most actively traded contracts are benefiting from expectations for steady to higher cash cattle trade this week.
- The boxed beef market has signaled a low may may be in place as Choice cuts rose another $1.01 yesterday while Select firmed $1.70. Also of note, movement has been decent despite the higher prices.
- Also showlists are down this week and another winter storm event is expected to tighten supplies in northern locations.
- All of this has traders expecting steady to higher cash cattle trade relative to last week's $142 to $143 trade. Early asking prices are at $145 to $147.
- Feeder cattle futures hit new contract highs yesterday. Traders have oscillated between light profit-taking and mild followthrough buying.
Lean hog futures are posting slight to moderate gains this morning.
- Steady to higher cash hog bids are lifting futures again today. Packers are raising bids in an effort to book needs ahead of yet another winter storm event in the Midwest.
- Saturday's kill is expected to be down 40,000 head from the week prior at 50,000 to 55,000 head due to recent transportation disruptions.
- Average hog weights ticked up by 0.2 lb. the week ended Feb. 15. Head counts are up nearly 10,000 over week ago, however.
- Adding incentive for packers to raise bids and keep kill lines as full as possible are positive profit margins.
- Adding to these, the pork cutout value rose 47 cents yesterday; movement was decent at 322.85 loads.
- Support also stems from news Russia will resume imports of U.S. pork in March.