Corn futures ended steady to higher. Futures were mostly higher on stronger-than-expected export sales totaling 37.8 million bushels for the current marketing year. China bought one cargo of corn. While only a couple of million bushels, the sale suggests that China may bid for corn on setbacks. In addition, freezing temperatures the past couple of mornings may have damaged some early planted corn. Rain will stall corn planting through the weekend and early next week across much of the Corn Belt. May corn settled 1 1/2 cents higher at $6.37 1/2 and December was unchanged at $5.46 3/4.
Soybean futures settled higher on Thursday. News that China was an overnight buyer of old-crop soybeans surprised traders who were selling earlier this week on the idea that prices were too high for foreign buyers. China was a designated buyer of one cargo and there was another sale to an unidentified buyer that might also have been China. USDA also reported weekly old-crop sales. Those sales topped average for the eighth consecutive week. May futures closed 19 cents higher at $14.41 while November gained 13 3/4 cents at $13.72 3/4. It was the highest close yet of the rally for the May contract.
Wheat futures closed mostly higher Thursday. CBOT led the way on ideas that both exports and feed usage are strong on competitive pricing vs. corn. Another night of frost in parts of soft red winter wheat country is another element, although it’s still not seen as cutting yields appreciably at the national level. Outside markets lent support today. Today’s wheat action was almost like a “delayed reaction” to Tuesday’s data. CBOT May was 11 1/4 cents higher at $6.39; KBOT May was 9 cents higher at $6.53; while MGE May was 1 3/4 cents lower at $8.36 1/2.
Cattle futures finished higher Thursday. Cattle futures garnered support from steady cash trade on Wednesday. There was concern that given packers financial stress, cash bids would be down this week. Weekly beef export sales were also strong which helped shore up demand concerns. After the steep selloff over the past several weeks, futures are deeply oversold and due for a bounce. June cattle futures settled $2.10 higher at $117.15 and August was also $2.10 higher at $120.15.
Lean hog futures closed higher on Thursday. Hog futures were supported by an increase in pork and cash hog prices on Wednesday and also from strong outside markets. Prices for most commodities were high as was the stock market and the value of the dollar was lower. Deferred contracts are trending higher with traders hoping for a seasonal increase in the cash market. The May contract closed at $93.13, up 60 cents. June was 58 cents higher, settling at $93.23.