Talk that ethanol production may not decline boosted corn futures Thursday. The weekly Export Sales report also stated last week’s total near the upper end of forecasts, which was probably supportive. But the early advance very likely stemmed from talk that U.S. ethanol producers won’t curtail production substantially despite the proposed cutback in the mandate; they are reportedly looking to the export market. December corn futures climbed 6.0 cents to $4.23/bushel at their Thursday close, while May moved up 4.0 to $4.375.

Soybeans and oil led the ag markets higher. Talk of growing tightness in global palm oil supplies sent Asian prices to their highest level in over a year last night, which pulled the soy complex higher as well. Those gains were exaggerated by the Export Sales report, which stated the soybean and oil totals well above forecasts. Meal sales disappointed, but prices rebounded late in the day. January soybean futures jumped 17.75 cents to $12.915/bushel late Thursday, while December soyoil soared 1.22 cents to 41.54 cents/pound, and December soymeal crept up $4.0 to $411.0/ton.

The wheat markets turned mixed Thursday afternoon. Recent optimism about the export outlook was apparently justified by the weekly USDA Export Sales report, since the weekly total, at 618,000 tonnes topped forecasts ranging between 375,000 and 475,000 tonnes. However, forecasts for plentiful short-term moisture over the Great Plains undercut the Kansas City market. Minneapolis prices also turned lower. December CBOT wheat futures settled 1.5 cents higher at $6.4875/bushel Thursday, but December KCBT wheat futures declined 0.75 cent to $6.9475, and December MWE futures skidded 1.5 to $6.9625.

Modest cash losses sparked a Thursday’s cattle surge. This week’s wholesale weakness and futures losses had seemingly set the stage for a sizeable decline in country cash prices this week. However, Southern Plains cattle reportedly posted a surprisingly small $1.00 decline to $131/cwt (cents/pound), which prompted a strong bullish reaction in Chicago. December cattle futures advanced 0.40 cents to 131.45 at their Thursday settlement, while April futures added 0.40 cents to 133.07. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle ran up 0.62 cents to 163.37 cents/pound, and March feeders advanced 0.10 cents to 163.27.

Hog futures set back from late-Wednesday highs. Ideas that forthcoming hog supplies may not prove as large as previously feared seemed to send CME futures sharply higher Wednesday afternoon. However, cash and wholesale quotes continued their late decline today, which apparently sparked renewed interest from sellers. December hog futures ended the day unchanged at 86.25 cents/pound, while April fell 0.35 cents to 93.25.