Grain markets proved generally weak Thursday at midday

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Corn futures fell Thursday morning despite strength spilling over from the soybean pit. The winter storm blanketing the Central Plains with snow may be weighing upon prices somewhat, but the more likely force behind the drop probably came from the International Grains Council. That group announced this morning that it was raising its estimate of 2012-13 global corn production by 5.0 million tonnes to 850 million. This doesn’t actually change how much is available, but it certainly suggests supplies are more plentiful than previously thought. March corn had fallen 7.0 cents to $6.935/bushel around midsession Thursday, while December dipped 6.25 cents to $5.5525.

Nearby soybean futures managed a modest rise Thursday morning, but the deferred contracts and oil declined. Talk of firm cash prices across the Midwest reportedly supported the March future, as did speculation that logistical problems with the huge Brazilian crop will force international buyers to continue buying U.S. beans later in the year than previously thought. Meal demand may also be proving surprisingly robust, which would explain nearby futures gains in that pit and concurrent oil weakness. March beans were trading 8.0 cents higher, at $14.9075 late Thursday morning, while March soyoil had fallen 0.58 cents to 51.49 cents/pound, whereas March meal gained $4.0 to $437.6/ton.

Wheat futures fell to fresh 8-month lows Thursday morning, with traders rather obviously reacting to the snow blanket being dropped on large portions of the Plains from the Panhandle region into Iowa today. This could substantially increase production prospects for the coming winter wheat harvest. News that the International Grain Council did not increase its forecast wheat carryout for the 2013-14 crop year apparently did little to support the market. March CBOT wheat futures plunged 16.0 cents to $7.225/bushel just before lunchtime Thursday, while March KCBT wheat dove 15.25 cents to $7.62, and March MGE futures dropped 12.25 cents to $8.085.

After posting a sizeable reversal Wednesday night, live cattle futures apparently resumed their downtrend Thursday morning. There was not specific news behind the drop, but we have to wonder if the livestock markets are suffering from ongoing talk about the anticipated government sequester. The packing industry could be forced to completely shut down (due to the requirement for USDA inspection of all meat production) if it occurs. We think this is highly unlikely, but we cannot completely rule it out either. Midday slippage in beef cutout values did not help the situation either. April cattle fell 0.35 cents to 127.87 cents/pound in late-morning activity, while August lost 0.45 cents to 125.07. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle slid 0.30 cents to 140.42 cents/pound, and August had fallen 0.35 cents to 153.45.

Hog futures proved quite weak again Thursday morning. Concerns about the impact of the mooted government sequester may also have been affecting the swine and pork complex. However, the latest cash and wholesale news was not supportive. Traders saw no quotes concerning hog trading in the Western Corn Belt, but those east of the Mississippi River had fallen rather sharply. The noon pork report called ham prices steady to 2.0 cents lower, which will not improve sentiment in the CME pit. April hogs dropped 0.65 cents to 82.30 cents/pound in Thursday morning action, while June fell 0.62 cents to 91.72.



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