Planting forecasts assessed
***** Corn futures up 3 cents ahead of the break; soybeans higher by 4 to 5; Chicago wheat down 2. *****

# Grains are mixed on moderate overnight volume. Active spreading from the May to July corn futures contracts continues. Soybean futures are trying to work higher despite weakness for soyoil product prices. Wheat futures face pressure from the technical seller. Crude oil futures start lower after last week finishing their sixth consecutive week with gains.
# U.S./China trade talks are still indicated to be going well from the positive comments offered by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin this weekend. Mnuchin will join U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a round of phone calls with Chinese negotiators this week. It is reported this morning that the U.S. side has made concessions on its demands for subsidy reform while the Chinese have announced their consideration of an adjustment or removal of duties in place against U.S. distillers dried grains.
# Wheat has its feelings hurt after U.S. supplies werent picked in last weeks Egypt tender. Instead, the top importer selected to purchase 240,000 tons from Romania and Ukraine. Poor U.S. export demand remains the primary drag on prices, but small bits of bullishness from the supply side may start to take bigger focus in the weeks ahead.
# The National Oilseed Processors Association will report on March soybean crush activity today. Traders look for monthly processings to total near 168 million bushels, which would be up on the month but down slightly on the year.
# Wet weather lingers in Northern Plains and Upper Midwest this morning after a winter storm dumped snow and rain and slush across most of the central U.S. this weekend. Another round of strong storms is expected to develop into the middle of the week. Fields may have a chance to start drying out over what looks to be a clear Easter weekend ahead.
# A wet week will have impacted planting efforts last week. USDA will issue a Crop Progress report after todays market bell, likely to show that U.S. farmers havent budged much from the 2 percent of corn acres that were planted during the first week of April.
# Weather worries may serve to spook some speculators out of their bearish corn and soybean bets in the days to come. Fridays Commitments of Traders report surprised by showing hedge funds holding a new record net corn short of more than 270,000 contracts. The managed money soybean position is currently estimated net-short by about 75,000 contracts.
# Investors are cheering a strong start to the first quarter earnings season provided by profit beats from some of the big banks like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. The market will have a look at earnings from transport group J B Hunt today before big names like Netflix, UnitedHealth Group, and Johnson & Johnson report tomorrow.

***** June cattle futures have an eye on the cash trade ahead of becoming the delivery month; hogs still finding support from ASF concerns. *****

# Weather issues in the West remain supportive to cattle prices. Short-run supply constraints are boosting the wholesale beef prices to keep the cash market firm. Cash trades near $124 last week leave the expiring April futures contract with a small premium, but the next-up June at $121.45 holds a discount.
# Analysts are all but certain U.S. pork exporters are headed for a record year after China made a massive purchase last week with more promised to come. Last week, Chinese officials reported their hog herd has shrunk by almost 20 percent because of losses to the African swine disease.