Winter Storm To Bring Pain, Gain

The latest winter storm to sweep across the continental US likely will leave in its wake blessings and pain, and the mixed overnight trading in grains and soybean futures shows this.  \r\n   The latest forecast map from the National Weather Service for today shows the possibility of heavy snow and freezing rain falling in a band from the Oklahoma Panhandle up through northern Ohio. <a href=\”\”>Your text to link…</a>\r\n   The precipitation is expected to be followed by another round of arctic air.\r\n   The precipitation could be welcomed by wheat growers in the Plains who have watched their fields turn powdery over the last month, leaving plants vulnerable to winter kill from the month’s extremely cold temperatures.  \r\n   However, any freezing rain will not be welcomed by cattle producers.  When cattle get wet, their ability to deal with cold and wind declines quickly, increasing the chances for illness and death loss.  \r\n   Freezing rain also means icy roads and slower truck transportation.  Many farmers won’t even take a chance on moving grain or livestock until the roads clear.  Some farmer selling of corn was noted lately as futures reached targeted levels, but exporters and ethanol producers would like to see more.\r\n   And the arctic air that is behind this storm won’t do river transportation any favors either.  Ice already hampers two-way traffic in spots and clogs any locks that try to remain open.\r\n   Weekly export sales data showed strong sales for corn, soybeans and wheat with no cancellations of soybeans by China.  Many traders are expecting China to cancel some orders and switch their buying interest to Brazil’s lower-priced new crop, but so far, it hasn’t happened.\r\n   US corn exports remain the cheapest in the world, although it is losing its advantage as the spread between US and other world markets narrows. Corn also is getting a boost from economic and civil unrest in Ukraine, despite adequate supplies there, and Argentine inflation is thought to be causing farmers there to hold grain, slowing exports.\r\n   Further business from China now is expected to be dimmed until Feb. 5 as the country celebrates its Lunar New Year\r\n   The USDA’s annual cattle inventory report this afternoon is expected to give a picture of the US herd size.  There is widespread belief that ranchers would like to increase their herds to take advantage of higher prices for feeder cattle, but lingering drought and high related costs are hampering these desires. \r\n   There were few more rumors of slaughter-ready cattle trading in the Plains Thursday at $145 to $146 per cwt on a live basis, down from reports of $146 to $147 earlier this week.  \r\n   If those reports are verified, it could undermine futures prices, since traders were said to be supporting nearby contracts Thursday amid uncertainty about how aggressive packer buyers would be this week.\r\n   Many cattle traders feel the cash and futures markets have topped, along with wholesale beef prices.  The USDA reported its choice beef cutout Thursday at $230.75 per cwt, down $1.06 on the day.  Select was off $0.64 at $229.79.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $0.96, and there were only 89 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.\r\n   The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $171.55, down $0.06, while Jan futures settled Thursday at $171.67 per cwt, down $0.12.\r\n