Ag markets proved rather volatile Thursday afternoon

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Strong export data supported corn futures Thursday. Today’s weekly USDA Export Sales report stated both old and new-crop corn sales above industry expectations, thereby suggesting the recent rally has rendered U.S. grain attractive to international customers. Futures couldn’t sustain the subsequent bounce, but news that an airliner had been shot down over the Ukraine reignited industry concerns about Black Sea supplies and boosted prices. September corn settled up 1.25 cents at $3.795/bushel Thursday, while December rose 0.5 cent to $3.8725.

The soy complex turned lower despite recent Chinese buying. The Export Sales report was neutral for beans and products, but, unlike corn, bean futures sustained a significant portion of the post-report rally through midsession. That probably reflected the recent acceleration of Chinese buying. However, talk that current supplies will last into the fall harvest reportedly undercut prices late in the day. August soybean futures tumbled 12.5 cents to $11.7475/bushel as Thursday’s pit session ended, while November futures fell 8.0 cents to $10.94. August soyoil sank 0.46 cents to 36.37 cents/pound, while August soymeal dipped $3.2 to $380.5/ton.

Wheat exports disappointed, but Ukraine news sparked a resurgence. In contrast to the bullish corn totals, the wheat result on today’s Export Sales report disappointed; the actual figure fell well short of pre-report forecasts. The over-supplied global outlook is outweighing supportive domestic news. However, the Ukrainian plane crash clearly has traders worried about the Black Sea situation. September CBOT wheat rebounded 12.75 cents to $5.5075/bushel at Thursday’s close, while September KC wheat jumped 11.75 cents to $6.49/bushel, and September MWE wheat ran up 9.0 cents to $6.37/bushel.

Steady cash trading boosted cattle futures Thursday. Despite early-week wholesale weakness, packer buyers bought a few central Plains cattle at steady-weak levels Wednesday afternoon. That news almost surely triggered the overnight surge and today’s sustained gains, since traders had expected a significant decline instead. August live cattle leapt 2.97 cents to 150.65 cents/pound late Thursday afternoon, while December rallied 1.80 cents to 153.85. Meanwhile, August feeder cattle jumped 1.77 cents to 211.60 cents/pound, and October climbed 1.67 to 212.35.

CME hogs reversed on demand pessimism. Hog futures tried to follow cattle futures higher last night, but bearish expectations reasserted themselves today. Hog supplies will probably remain very tight through midsummer, but traders clearly think the recent demand surge will end soon. August hog futures plunged 1.68 cents to 128.85 cents/pound in late Thursday action, while December tumbled 1.10 cents to 102.90.

Cotton futures posted a surprisingly firm close. The weekly Export Sales report stated last week’s new-sales at an impressive 347,000 tonnes, which apparently triggered a sizeable post-report rally. The shipments data was quite poor and dragged prices lower around midsession, but the Ukraine plane crash seemed to bring the bulls back before the close. December cotton inched up 0.01 cent to 67.65 cents per pound at Thursday’s ICE settlement, while March futures skidded 0.07 to 68.23 cents/lb.

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