Ag markets posted mixed closes Thursday

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Talk of increased demand seemingly boosted corn prices Thursday. Corn futures continued their modest rise Thursday, with traders citing strong livestock demand for feed in current frigid conditions, as well as improved usage by ethanol producers. Futures may also have responded to diminished rainfall in the latest South American forecasts. March corn closed up 2.75 cents to $4.29/bushel Thursday afternoon, while May rose 2.25 to $4.3525/bushel.

Cash weakness reportedly undercut the soy complex. Soybean and product futures apparently derived considerable support from drier forecasts for Brazil and Argentina Thursday. However, late reports cited Chinese switching from U.S. to South American bean purchases lately, thereby confirming recent talk to that effect. Moreover, midday reports indicated widespread country market weakness, which added to the afternoon pressure. March soybean futures settled 2.5 cents lower at $12.77/bushel in late Thursday action, while March soyoil edged up 0.02 cents to 37.86 cents/pound, and March soymeal edged down $0.7 to $418.7/ton.

Cold weather forecasts powered Thursday’s wheat advance. Talk of robust export demand continued supporting wheat futures today, but the main impetus for their gains almost surely stemmed from the latest weather forecasts. Those reflect fresh predictions for arctic weather over much of the country into early February, thereby increasing the chances for freeze damage to winter wheat. March CBOT wheat futures surged 8.75 cents to $5.70/bushel as trading wound down Thursday, while March KCBT wheat futures jumped 7.5 cents to $6.3225, and March MWE futures moved up 0.25 to $6.1725.

Cattle futures lost their upward momentum Thursday. News that beef packers paid $150/cwt (cents/pound) for fed cattle Wednesday afternoon boosted CME futures overnight. However, today’s noon beef report confirmed suspicions that wholesale prices were set to reverse. Given the size of the recent price spike, it wasn’t terribly surprising to see futures struggle today. February cattle futures settled 0.25 cents higher at 143.92 cents/pound Thursday afternoon, but April futures dove 1.20 to 140.60. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures dropped 0.50 cents to 169.87 cents/pound, and May fell 0.67 to 170.82.

Premiums again hampered bullish efforts in hog futures. The hog and pork markets have proven mixed to moderately stronger lately. However, widespread anticipation of a much larger move has kept CME futures supported at significantly higher levels. Thus, mediocre cash/pork news exerted fresh downward pressure upon Chicago prices. February hogs inched up 0.02 cents to 85.57 cents/pound as Thursday’s pit session ended, while June added 0.10 to 102.00.

Technical factors seemed to undercut cotton futures Thursday afternoon. A Chinese cotton industry association released several supportive reports and statements Wednesday night, but ICE traders essentially ignored them all. Instead, futures apparently turned lower in response to a seemingly bearish reversal signal posted Wednesday. March cotton tumbled 0.51 cents to 87.33 cents/pound at their Thursday settlement, while July cotton lost 0.13 cents to 87.54.



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