Rising Black Sea tensions supporting the grain markets. Sources have proven that Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile rebel forces have reportedly occupied the important port town of Mariupol, which may slow the flow of Ukrainian grain to the world market. Corn is less affected than wheat, but that region produces lots of corn as well. September corn rallied 5.75 cents to $3.6175/bushel Wednesday, while December added 4.25 to $3.6925.

Demand strength and Black Sea news supported the soy complex. Wednesday’s big rebound in nearby soymeal values illustrated the underlying strength of soy demand, which largely explains the follow-through strength seen last night and again today. The soy complex probably reacted to the Black Sea situation as well, but prices proved rather changeable. After spiking upward early, September soybean futures closed 12.0 cents lower at $10.7375/bushel Thursday, while November futures gained 5.0 cents to $10.2875. September soyoil slipped 0.03 cents to 32.64 cents/pound, whereas September soymeal jumped $16.7 to $433.2/ton.

The wheat markets were clearly reacting to Black Sea events Thursday. The Ukraine/Russia situation seems to be deteriorating, with one major consequence potentially being a substantial reduction in wheat exports from that region. Wheat prices are probably going to continue reacting to news from the Black Sea for the foreseeable future. September CBOT wheat jumped 9.25 cents to $5.565/bushel at its Thursday settlement, while September KC wheat ran up 7.0 cents to $6.35/bushel, and September MWE wheat rose 1.75 to $6.12.

Cash optimism boosted cattle futures. As usual, there was little apparent news concerning the fed cattle market Thursday, but the manner in which the nearby contracts surged suggested beef packers were raising their country bids. That increased the chances of relatively steady result to this week’s cash trading and encouraged bullish ideas about the fall outlook. October live cattle futures leapt 2.27 cents to 150.10 cents/pound in late Thursday trading, while December futures vaulted 1.93 to 152.70. Meanwhile, September feeder futures spiked 2.67 cents to 217.15 and November futures soared 2.70 to 212.92.

Surging cattle prices limited CME hog losses. Cash hog markets dipped again Wednesday, while pork cutout values fell sharply. The latter news seemed particularly bearish, but bulls proved surprisingly successful in keeping today’s CME losses to a minimum. That seemingly reflected industry optimism about the September hog/pork outlook, as well as the concurrent cattle surge. October hogs fell 0.45 cents to 95.10 cents/pound as Thursday’s CME session ended, while December skidded 0.12 to 90.37.