The crop markets remained strong Monday morning. The weekly USDA Export Inspections report seemed disappointing for corn market bulls, since the stated total fell well short of the forecast range. Having the stock market indexes fall sharply wasn’t helpful either. Nevertheless, corn futures sustained their Sunday night gains this morning, thereby seeming to reflect optimism about the demand outlook. March corn futures climbed 9.75 cents to $4.055/bushel late Monday morning, while July rose 8.25 to $4.20.

News of Chinese purchases is boosting the soy complex. The soybean and product markets rose strongly Sunday night, then surged in response to early news of a large (233,000-tonne) sale to China. The weekly Export Inspections report seemed market neutral, but U.S. dollar strength and stock market weakness might easily have proved bearish. Ultimately, bulls are probably banking on vigorous protein demand again in 2015. March soybean futures jumped 27.25 cents to $10.3475/bushel around midsession Monday, while March soyoil moved up 0.59 to 32.68 cents/pound, and March meal gained $9.2 to $349.6/ton.

Talk of Chinese buying may be supporting wheat. Although recent snowfall over the Great Plains has not been particularly heavy, the threat of winter kill in current frigid conditions seems rather modest. Still, wheat futures remained strong this morning, thereby seeming to reflect talk of large sales to China, with U.S. wheat reportedly being part of the transaction. March CBOT wheat advanced 7.5 cents to $5.8875/bushel in late Monday morning action, while March KC wheat rallied 7.75 cents to $6.2475/bushel, and March MWE wheat ran up 10.25 to $6.2125.

Cattle futures are building on last week’s late strength. After dropping sharply through early December, cash cattle prices rebounded dramatically last week. That seemingly set the stage for more of the same during the days and weeks ahead, thereby encouraging follow-through buying in CME cattle & feeder futures as well. February live cattle lifted 0.42 cents to 166.10 cents/pound just before lunchtime Monday, while April futures increased 0.67 cents to 165.25. January feeder cattle futures leapt 1.45 cents to 225.40 cents/pound and March feeders soared 1.80 cents to 223.25.

Cash weakness seems to be undercutting hog futures. The hog and pork industry is anticipating a seasonal rally during the days and weeks ahead. However, the fact that the CME lean hog index continued sliding into the weekend is apparently causing Chicago bulls to rethink the premiums already built into nearby futures. February hog futures fell 0.85 cents to 80.45 cents/pound late Monday morning, while June hogs edged 0.02 cents lower to 91.97.