Cotton was the exception to Thursday's general ag market strength

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The corn market sustained recent gains in early Thursday trading. Talk of damage to the winter wheat crop, reduced 2015 plantings and robust demand is being credited for the ongoing corn advance, although technical buying is probably exaggerating the rise. Still, having yellow grain prices remain firm in the face of the soy setback from early highs is impressive. December corn futures climbed 7.0 cents to $3.8475/bushel late Thursday morning, while May added 6.5 to $4.055.

The soy complex has apparently lost its upward momentum. After proving stunningly strong over the past six weeks, soybean and product prices suffered a nasty setback Wednesday. Bulls tried to reignite the rally this morning, but prices again set back from early highs. This probably bodes rather ill for the short-term outlook. January soybean futures gained 7.75 cents to $10.555/bushel shortly before lunchtime Thursday, while December soyoil sagged 0.03 cents to 32.19 cents/pound, and December meal rose just $3.1 to $398.1/ton.

The wheat markets are leading crops higher. Wheat traders apparently worry that the current cold spell will seriously diminish U.S. winter wheat crop next year, which has provided consistent support lately. The fact that the CBOT market is leading the way higher seemingly confirms industry worries about SRW wheat. December CBOT wheat marched up 11.25 cents to $5.54/bushel around midsession Thursday, while December KC wheat rallied 7.5 cents to $6.0675/bushel, and December MWE wheat advanced 5.75 at $5.87.

Cattle futures proved quite strong Thursday morning. Supportive fundamental and seasonal factors still seem to favor the bullish cause in the cattle and beef markets. Moreover, the situation might become extraordinarily tight if the current cold snap is a harbinger of a cold, snowy winter over the central and southern Plains. Prices could really soar in such circumstances, which may partially explain today’s advance. December live cattle futures leapt 1.80 cents at 169.55 cents/pound in early Thursday trading, while April futures surged 0.77 to 169.00. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle futures jumped 1.27 cents to 234.65 cents/pound, and March feeders vaulted 1.32 to 233.12.

Talk of frigid weather may be boosting CME hogs as well. Although today’s spot quotes seemed generally steady to weak, hog futures rallied in concert with the cattle complex. Traders reportedly think frigid temperatures could cut hog performance and short-term supplies. December hog futures lifted 0.45 cents to 91.12 cents/pound as the lunch hour loomed Thursday, while April hogs ran up 0.95 to 92.65.

Cotton remains under pressure. Concerns about the demand outlook seem to be limiting cotton rallies, especially with the global economic situation seeming less than supportive. The loss of bullish soy momentum may also be spilling over into the ICE market. Thus, while December cotton futures remain above the 60-cent level, the most-active March contract has fallen below that level, and is probably sparking technical/pragmatic selling as a consequence. December cotton futures fell 1.19 cents to 60.75 cents/pound just before noon (EST) Thursday, while March futures tumbled 1.24 cents to 59.10.

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