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Corn and Wheat Futures Prices Fall

Wednesday's Closing Grain and Livestock Futures
Mar. corn closed at $4.17, down 9 cents
Jan. soybeans closed at $13.00 and 3/4, up 1 and 1/4 cents
Jan. soybean meal closed at $430.60, down $4.00
Jan. soybean oil closed at 37.43, down 27 points
Mar. wheat closed at $5.88 and 3/4, down 13 and 3/4 cents
Feb. live cattle closed at $136.52, unchanged
Feb. lean hogs closed at $85.55, up 5 cents
Feb. crude oil closed at $92.33, down $1.34
Mar. cotton closed at 83.14, down 153 points
Jan. Class III milk closed at $20.39, up 11 cents
Feb. gold closed at $1,225.50, down $4.10
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 16,462.74, down 68.20 points

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Soybeans were mostly lower on fund and commercial selling. Growing conditions around South America look pretty good overall with rain headed for dry areas of Argentina later this week. China bought another 115,000 tons of U.S. beans, which did support January, but traders remain focused on South America and Friday’s USDA reports. According to Reuters, cash soybean prices are at four month highs due to winter shipping delays. Soybean meal and oil were lower on the fundamental implications of a record South American crop.

Corn was lower on fund and technical selling. Corn’s also paying attention to the rainfall totals in Argentina Thursday and Friday and the weekly ethanol numbers were bearish. Trade’s been fairly quiet ahead of the USDA numbers with traders expecting a record crop and big increases in stocks. Two of the closely watched numbers for corn in the supply and demand update will be U.S. exports and Chinese imports. Reuters reports China is speeding up import inspections of U.S. DDG imports and Syngenta is waiting for Beijing to approve the MIR 162 strain of GMO corn. Ethanol futures were lower.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling. There was no real fresh supportive news and wheat’s overall fundamentals continue to look neutral to bearish. Winter wheat planted area is expected to be up on the year and stocks could be a little tighter. Iraq is tendering for 50,000 tons of milling wheat from the U.S., Canada, and/or Australia, while Jordan canceled a recent tender for 100,000 tons of wheat.

The cash cattle market was not tested on Wednesday afternoon with just a handful of starter bids evident in Kansas at 135.00 and Nebraska at 215.00. There is a wide separation between asking prices and bids of 139. 00 to 140.00 in the South and 220.00 plus in the North. Needless to say significant trade volume will be delayed until late in the week. The kill totaled 115,000 head, not comparable to last week’s holiday, but 10,000 less than last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were sharply higher in the afternoon report on moderate demand and light to moderate offerings. Choice beef was up 2.82 at 210.13, and select was 3.51 higher at 207.07.

Live cattle contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange settled unchanged to 62 points higher supported by sharply higher boxed beef values, as well as the aggressive nature of the cash cattle market which is still in limbo with a wide gap between asking prices and bids. February settled unchanged at 136.52 and April was up .62 at 136.97.

Feeder cattle ended the session unchanged to 77 points higher on the firmness in the live cattle futures and the renewed support in boxed beef values. Contracts through the end of 2014, were unable to move higher, but this was more a factor of minimal trade in the deferred contracts than any overall fundamental or technical pressure developing. January settled .42 higher at 168.47, and March was up .72 at 168.55.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Loup City Commission Company, Loup City, Nebraska totaled 1420 head on Tuesday. Compared to the last fully tested market, steers and heifers weighing less than 700 pounds sold 5.00 to 10.00 higher, over 700 pounds traded 2.00 to 4.00 higher. Demand was good from a good crowd of buyers. 165 feeder steers averaging 726 pounds brought 173.01 per hundredweight. 105 heifers weighing 778 pounds averaged 158.64.

Lean hog contracts settled 5 to 42 points in the black. The early pressure in the lean pit eroded following the moderate to firm support in cattle futures. This created some spillover buyer support into the lean hog contracts although volume remained extremely light. February was up .05 at 85.57, and April was up .37 at 91.10.

There was an active hog market with good demand on Wednesday. Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .33 lower with a weighted average of 78.26 on a carcass basis, the West was down .19 at 78.25, and the East ended the day at 76.10 with no price comparison. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady from 73.00 to 75.00. Terminal hogs closed steady in a range of 51.00 to 58.00 live.

The pork carcass value was down 2.10 at 83.26 FOB plant in the afternoon report.

Better ham demand tied to Easter should soon surface and sustain greater packer revenue over the next 30-60 days.

The “Polar Vortex” has caused major delays in hog marketing this week with Monday’s slaughter only 306,000 head and Tuesday’s kill no more than 390,000.

Wednesday’s hog kill was more normal and estimated at 425,000 head, last Wednesday was a holiday with only 5,000 head, and 1,000 less than last year.

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