** OPENING GRAIN CALLS **
Corn: 6 to 8 cents higher; strong weekly export sales.
Wheat: 8 to 10 cents higher; price break attracts fresh demand.
Soybeans: 10 to 13 cents higher; talk China may cut its import tax.
Meal: $2 to $3 higher; spillover from soybeans.
Soyoil: 30 to 40 points higher; spillover from soybeans.
Grain futures enjoyed short-covering support overnight, with funds
returning to buy the recent price break. Additional support in the wheat pit came from a flurry of fresh demand news and potential for worsening drought conditions in China's winter wheat region, with soybean futures advancing on talk China may cut its soybean and soyoil import tax.
This morning's Weekly Export Sales Report is positive for the corn
market, reflecting no price rationing. Corn sales in excess of 1 million metric tons were reported for the current marketing year, with sales of 138,400 metric tons (MT) for 2011-12. Additionally, USDA this morning announced a daily sale of 101,600 MT of corn for delivery to Japan this marketing year.
Wheat sales were also above expectations, with sales of nearly 600,000 MT for 2010-11 and sales of 126,900 MT for 2011-12. Also, Japan made a daily wheat purchase and other countries posted wheat tenders overnight.
Meanwhile, soybean sales of 514,500 MT were reported for 2010-11, with net sales cancellations of 118,100 MT for 2011-12. As a result, the weekly tally came in below expectations. Also this morning, USDA announced a sales cancellations of 120,000 MT of soybeans to China for the current marketing year.
** OPENING LIVESTOCK CALLS **
Live cattle: Slightly higher; bullish fundamentals.
Feeder cattle: Slightly higher; higher cash trade.
Lean hogs: Narrowly mixed; upside limited by cash weakness.
Cattle futures are called to open slightly higher, but could turn choppy as traders wait on active cash cattle trade to develop. Given strength in the corn market overnight, buying in the feeder cattle pit could be limited. However, traders believe the cash index will be rising after news of much higher feeder-calf sales in the Plains.
February live cattle ended yesterday at around a dollar premium to early cash cattle trade, coming out of Kansas at $108. However, remaining feedlots say they are waiting on packers to raise bids further before moving animals given recent feedlot stress and tightening supplies. Traders will also be turning their focus to position squaring ahead of tomorrow afternoon's Cattle on Feed Report, with the average trade guess pointing to an On Feed figure at 105.1% of year-ago levels.
Lean hog futures are expected to be mixed, but bears have the upper hand after yesterday's late-session decline in futures. While near-term cash fundamentals are negative, downside risk should be limited in futures due to strong export prospects. The cash hog market is expected to be mostly weaker today, as packers say they are having no difficulty securing near-term supplies.