The crop markets remained strong Monday. The weekly USDA Export Inspections report seemed disappointing for corn market bulls, since the stated total fell well short of the forecast range. Having stock market indexes fall sharply wasn’t helpful either. Nevertheless, corn futures sustained their Sunday night gains today, thereby seeming to reflect optimism about the demand outlook. March corn futures climbed 10.25 cents to $4.06/bushel at Monday’s close, while July rose 8.25 to $4.20.

News of Chinese purchases sparked the bullish soy move. 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, technical buying and demand optimism appeared to power the surge. March soybean futures jumped 37.75 cents to $10.4525/bushel at their Monday settlement, while March soyoil moved up 0.78 to 32.87 cents/pound, and March meal vaulted $13.6 to $354.0/ton.

Talk of Chinese buying may have supported 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 Monday, thereby seeming to reflect talk of large sales to China, with U.S. wheat reportedly being part of the transaction. March CBOT wheat advanced 7.75 cents to $5.89/bushel in late Monday action, while March KC wheat rallied 7.75 cents to $6.2475/bushel, and March MWE wheat ran up 10.5 to $6.215.

Cattle futures built 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 0.55 cents to 166.22 cents/pound as Monday’s pit session ended, while April futures increased 0.87 cents to 165.45. January feeder cattle futures leapt 1.72 cents to 225.67 cents/pound and March feeders soared 1.92 cents to 223.37.

Depressed spot quotes seemed to undercut hog futures. The hog and pork industry is anticipating a seasonal rally during the days and weeks ahead. However, the fact that cash hog and pork prices continued sliding into the weekend apparently caused Chicago bulls to rethink the premiums already built into nearby futures. Today’s firmer pork quotes may have limited losses. February hog futures ended Monday having fallen 1.37 cents to 79.92 cents/pound, while June hogs slid 0.02 cents to 91.97.