Weather Woes, Technicals Boost Chicago Futures

Grain, soybean and livestock futures are up in overnight trading as harsh, wintry weather and technical indicators lend support.\r\n   Livestock futures also are getting support from ideas of weather-related stress and reduced slaughter weights, along with oversold technical conditions and a weaker US Dollar, market analysts said.\r\n   Country grain movement slowed again Wednesday, the victim of heavy snow and arctic temperatures in the Plains and Midwest and early week declines in basis levels from commercial users and elevators.  Basis levels dipped in response to a boost in farmer selling early this week.\r\n   As the snow storm moves northeast out of the Plains and Midwest, it is being followed by a blast of arctic air that is taking temperatures down to below zero in the Plains and western Midwest.  <a href=\” \”>Your text to link…</a> The National Weather Service has a winter weather advisory for central New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle and most of Oklahoma, but a large portion of the central US is under a Wind-Chill Advisory. \r\n   That won’t be much concern for wheat growers since the crop now has a covering of snow for protection, but it could be an issue for cattle producers.  Calves that have endured the stress of being trucked into feedlots recently could have more respiration illnesses.\r\n   Grain markets may settle down now and trade in narrow ranges ahead of Monday’s scheduled release of its February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report.  Many expect the USDA to boost export predictions for corn and soybeans, given their unexpectedly high level of shipments since the start of the marketing year Sep. 1.\r\n   The USDA also could lower its estimates for ending stocks of corn and soybeans, although many think the USDA could increase its estimate of soybean imports to offset the unexpected rise in exports in the first half of the marketing year.\r\n   However, cheaper Argentine soybean exports may not come any time soon.  A Reuters poll found that the country probably won’t give up on its currency controls any time soon, using its scarce international reserves to avoid another abrupt Peso devaluation.  \r\n   Argentine farmers have been holding soybeans in store as a hedge against rapid inflation and currency devaluations, much to the consternation of the government, which needs the export tax revenue.  Threats to fine them for not selling are still on the table, although they haven’t been talked about much in the last few days.\r\n   In a bit of a landmark occasion Wednesday, CBOT Oats temporarily traded above corn for the first time in 12 years, reported.  The US imports about half of its oats needs from Canada each year, and Canada’s weather-related railroad squeeze has been exacerbated recently by a threatened strike by the Teamsters Union at the Canadian National Railway.  A last-minute contract deal may avert the strike, but the situation made traders nervous.\r\n   No cash cattle trading was reported in the Plains Tuesday. Scant bids were reported at $139 per cwt on a live basis and $235 dressed.  Asking prices were holding around $146 live.  The USDA’s five-area live-basis fed steer price last week was $145.80 per cwt, down $2.42.\r\n   The USDA’s boxed-beef cutout was down Wednesday with the choice cutout down $3.85 per cwt at $216.64 and the select cutout down $2.58 at $216.63.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $0.01, and there were 126 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.\r\n   The CME Feeder Cattle Cash Index for the seven days ended Tuesday is $170.50, down $0.49, while the March futures contract settled Wednesday at $166.92, down $0.05.\r\n