Corn futures were higher. Corn was higher early on stronger-than-expected weekly export sales. Also, in contrast to recent price action, new-crop led the advance. Export sales totaled 44.2 million bushels and USDA officially confirmed corn sales of 15.5 million bushels to China that were only partially acknowledged last week. Strength in soybeans as they attempt to buy acres was also supportive to corn. May settled 1 1/2 cents higher at $6.58 1/4 and December settled 6 cents higher at $5.50 1/4.
Soybean futures settled higher on Thursday. USDA reported weekly export sales that topped expectations and marked the seventh consecutive week of above average old-crop sales. Traders appeared to be gearing up for USDA to report a sharp decline in old-crop carryout stocks when USDA next updates the supply/demand outlook on Tuesday. The average forecast is for carryout of about 245 million bushels which are down from 275 million last month. May futures closed 14 1/2 cents higher at $14.34 while November gained 6 cents at $13.81 1/2.
Wheat futures closed mixed on Thursday. CBOT and KCBOT futures could not hold on to small rebound gains after yesterday’s sharp losses and closed just slightly lower in Chicago but moreso in Kansas City. The frost threat continues to abate in the U.S. and more rain relief for dry areas of Europe are keeping any rally potential in check, however. MGE futures managed to close with a slight gain in the front month, but all the deferred contracts added to Wednesday’s losses on Thursday. CBOT May closed ¾ of a cent lower at $6.38 ½, while KCBT May closed 7 ½ cents lower at $6.62. MGE May closed a quarter cent higher at $8.46, is 4 ¼ cents higher at $6.73 ¾, and MGE May is just a quarter cent higher at $8.46, but all the deferred contracts showed losses for the day.
Cattle futures finished higher Thursday. Short covering ahead of the three day weekend supported the modest rally. Futures are deeply oversold and due for a bounce, but gains were limited by another sharp decline in the beef market at midday. Beef prices have fallen $17.50 to the nearly $20 per cwt from the peak in late February. June cattle futures were 70 cents higher at $115.82 and August was 60 cents higher at $118.47.
Lean hog futures closed with big gains on Thursday. The rally was triggered by short-covering ahead of the holiday and by growing optimism that hog prices are bottoming out. Cash hog prices were steady to lower on Thursday and they are still below the $80 mark. Still, prices usually rise between now and the end of May and traders want to be in position if we get the normal rally. The April contract gained 65 cents and closed at $84.50. June was up $1.53 at $93.53.