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Stocks continued their relentless surge higher as investors front-run the Monday morning melt-up, next week’s earnings and eye a Greek bailout over the weekend.  Stocks closed higher in 4 of the 5 days this week for 1.3% gains.  This is about par for the course over the last few months as stocks have risen in over 70% of all sessions for almost 15% gains.  Volume was again light on the day, but breadth was positive at 1.5:1. The push to 1200 is now nearly complete as the S&P sits just a fraction underneath this long heralded target.

From Daily Futures:

U.S. Economy
The U.S. Commerce Department said that wholesale sales were up .8% in February and up 9.8% from a year ago. Inventories were up .6% in February, but down 7.4% from a year ago. The June 2011 eurodollars were steady at 98.445.

Grains and Cotton
The USDA’s 2009-2010 U.S. ending stocks estimate of:
Corn was increased from 1.799 to 1.899 billion bushels.
Soybeans remained at 190 million bushels.
Wheat was reduced from 1,001 to 950 million bushels.
Sugar was increased from 1.075 to 1.218 million tons.
Cotton was reduced from 3.20 to 3.00 million bales.
May cotton finished down .53 at 78.07, the lowest close in seven weeks.

According to Weather.com, most of the midwestern U.S. is looking forward to warmer, drier weather next week – favorable ahead of planting. May corn dropped 2 cents to $3.462.

The USDA’s 2009-2010 world ending stocks estimate of:
Corn was increased from 140 to 144 million tons.
Soybeans was increased from 61 to 63 million tons.
Wheat was reduced from 197 to 196 million tons.
Cotton was reduced slightly to 51 million tons.
July wheat was down 2.25 cents at $4.802.

The USDA said that they expect beef production to be down 1% in 2010 and increased the 2010 average price estimate for choice steers from 89.5 to 91 cents per pound. June cattle closed up .42 at 94.75.

The USDA expects pork production to be down 3% in 2010 and increased the 2010 average price estimate for barrows and gilts from 48.5 to 51.5 cents per pound. June hogs were down .35 at 84.37.

After the close, the USDA estimated this week’s beef production at 469.1 million pounds, up .9% from a year ago. Pork production was estimated at 410.1 million pounds, down 5.4% from a year ago.

Orange juice
The USDA raised its estimate of Florida’s 2009-2010 orange crop from 131 to 132 million boxes and the projected juice yield was raised from 1.53 to 1.56 gallons per box at 42.0 degrees Brix. May orange juice closed up 3.30 cents at $1.2980.

June gold closed up $9.00 at $1,161.90, the highest close in four months, helped by today’s weaker U.S. dollar.

June natural gas closed up 16.3 cents at $4.169 in spite of forecasts for warmer U.S. weather ahead.

Statistics Canada said that the unemployment rate stayed at 8.2% in March, as expected, with a net gain of 17,900 jobs, less than expected. The June Canadian dollar ended down .19 at 99.49.

It is still not clear exactly how the European Union might help Greece, but the June euro closed up 1.05 cents at $1.3456 with talk of a possible agreement (see article).

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