Grain futures held up well despite falling financial markets

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Despite big losses in the financial, energy and metal markets, corn futures held up remarkably well Wednesday. The modest gains came despite increase production estimates for China, Brazil and Argentina from a private industry source around midsession. Traders cited bargain hunting and hopes for increased export sales in the wake of recent losses for the early corn advance. Strength spilling over from the wheat pit also seemed to boost corn. May corn closed 1.0 cent higher, at $6.415/bushel Wednesday afternoon, while December gained 3.0 cents to $5.395.

Soybean futures diverged rather dramatically from Wednesday wheat and corn gains. Talk that Brazilian logistical problems are easing and the flow of beans to the global markets is accelerating was one factor dragging the legume market downward, but traders were also concerned about the strength of future Chinese demand as that country deals with a fresh ‘bird flu’ scare. The prospect of delayed spring plantings, and a resulting shift toward soybeans, may have weighed upon prices as well. May soybeans fell 13.75 cents to $13.8025/bushel at its Wednesday settlement, while May soyoil slid 0.44 cents to 49.15 cents/pound, and May meal dipped $4.1 to $398.0/ton.

Wheat futures proved surprisingly strong Wednesday, especially when its gains were viewed within the context of sizeable financial, energy and metal losses. Traders were reportedly reacting to hopes for increased export demand in the wake of recent losses and to ideas that Tuesday rains over the Southern Plains were disappointingly light. May CBOT wheat futures leapt 25.75 cents to $6.965/bushel in late Wednesday afternoon morning trading, while May KCBT wheat advanced 18.5 cents to $7.3525 and May MGE futures surged 15.25 cents to $7.915.

Sustained beef gains Tuesday afternoon and again late Wednesday morning pushed the Chicago cattle market higher today. Consequently, traders are probably anticipating another significant cash price increase later this week. The cattle and beef complex traditionally proves quite strong at this time of year. Financial market losses probably weighed upon prices later in the day. June cattle settled 0.37 cents higher, at 123.20 cents/pound, Wednesday afternoon, while December climbed 0.10 cents to 129.55. However, May feeder cattle futures declined 0.53 cents to 146.57 cents/pound, and August lost 0.15 cents to 153.50. `

The hog market moved generally higher Wednesday, with spillover support from the cattle pit likely responsible for a significant portion of that strength. Talk of rising cash values seemingly added to those gains, since the industry is rather clearly anticipating a sizeable seasonal advance during the days and weeks just ahead. The lightly traded May contract inched up 0.20 cents to 90.15 cents/pound in late Wednesday trading, while June climbed 0.62 cents to 92.47.



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