Hog futures proved decidedly mixed in Thursday night-Friday morning action. The fact that the CME lean hog index remains at a significant premium to the nearby April contract may have provided support. However, bears are almost surely thinking that premium could be quickly eliminated if the recent downtrend in country prices persists. The big Thursday afternoon drop in ham prices and its negative effect upon pork cutout was not encouraging either. April hogs gained 0.07 cents to 82.37 cents/pound in pre-dawn trading, while June was unchanged at 91.70.
Cotton futures seemingly followed the soybean and grain markets higher Thursday night, which probably reflected ICE trader confidence about the strength of Chinese buying for the foreseeable future. However, the USDA followed up on its preliminary cotton acreage forecast released Thursday, reiterating its prediction of 2013-14 plantings at 10.0 million acres, which is well above some private estimates in the 9.0-9.2 million-acre range. We would also warn that the Thursday cotton price drop did considerable technical damage to the charts. March cotton rebounded 0.48 cents to 81.79 cents/pound in overnight trading, while December edged 0.05 cents higher to 83.67.