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Grain surge, cattle & hogs slump Tuesday

Jeff Caldwell 12/20/2011 @ 2:00pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

After dipping earlier in the day, the corn trade rebounding, joining soybeans and wheat to close on the high side Tuesday.

At the close, March corn was 6 1/2 cents higher at $6.07 1/2 per bushel, while January soybeans were 8 cents higher at $11.45 and March wheat was 7 3/4 higher at $6.07 1/2, according to Barchart.com.

The crop-stressing heat and dryness in South America drove Tuesday's higher prices, as did a lower U.S. Dollar index and higher crude oil and equities markets. And, Tuesday's close hit a key level, says ICAP Energy LLC Derivatives Manager Scott Shellady.

"On the upside in March corn, I am looking at technical levels to the upside at $6.07, and as some older traders say, 'Never sell a quiet market,'" Shellady said Tuesday morning.

In the livestock sector, live cattle futures hit limit-up on Monday on account of the looming blizzard in the central and southern Plains. While it did cut short the last 2 days' slaughter at packers in that region, once the sun came up Tuesday, feeders and others discovered less severe blizzard damage than expected. And, combined with some profit-taking after Monday's big rally, that sent cattle futures lower Tuesday. Nearby live cattle futures ended the day at $120.78/CWT, down just short of 73 cents.

Meahwhile, the hog complex spent much of Tuesday under pressure, with cash hogs ending the day 50 cents to $1/CWT lower on slipping pre-holiday demand.

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