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Stocks overcame a disastrous housing report to eek out a gain on the day.  Volume was very light once again, but breadth favored the bulls by 3:2.   The dollar was flat on the day, but commodities managed to  rally on the day.  Copper futures and oil were both up about 0.7%.  Stocks closed the day higher by  0.31%.  Daily Futures wraps up the action from all markets:

U.S. Economy
The U.S. Commerce Department said that factory orders were up 1.1% in November, better than expected. The March 2011 eurodollars closed up .10 at 98.28.

The National Association of Realtors said that pending home sales were down 16% in November, but still up 15.5% from a year ago. March lumber fell $2.40 to $228.10. The March U.S. T-bonds closed up 30/32nds at 116.01/32nds.

Grains and Cotton
Part of yesterday’s big gain in wheat prices was due to concerns that the winter wheat crops in Nebraska and Kansas may suffer damage from being exposed to below-zero temperatures. Today, March wheat was down 4.75 cents to $5.53.

According to Bloomberg news, the soybean harvest in Brazil has begun and expectations are high for a record crop (see article). March soybeans ended up 3 cents at $10.61.

The International Cotton Advisory Committee predicted that world cotton production will total 24.1 million tons in 2010-2011, up 8% from this season. March cotton dropped 2.88 cents to 73.12.

February cattle jumped up .95 at 86.32, the highest close in eight weeks, while extremely cold temperatures continue to stress livestock in the north-central U.S. April hogs closed up .82 at 71.27.

Orange juice
Temperatures in central Florida dipped below 30 degrees this morning and forecasters expect one more cold morning on Saturday. According to Reuters, the citrus groves are doing well so far, but March orange juice finished up its 10-cent daily limit at $1.4355, the highest close in seventeen months.

March natural gas closed down 24.8 cents at $5.593 with a possibility of more normal temperatures returning this weekend.

March copper closed up .0075 at a new contract high $3.4135, helped by positive outlooks for continued growth in China and India.

Eurostat estimated that consumer prices in the Euro area were up .9% in December from a year ago, the biggest annual gain in ten months. The March euro closed down .0043 at 1.4367.

New home sales in Australia were up .3% in November.

The March Japanese yen gained .0099 to 1.0903, blamed on today’s weak U.S. pending home sales report.