Ag markets proved rather volatile Thursday

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Thursday’s Export Sales report supported corn futures. The corn market firmed around moving average support Wednesday night, with news of a sizeable purchase by a South Korean firm seemingly encouraging traders. They apparently started buying more aggressively after the weekly USDA Export Sales report stated last week’s corn total well above forecasts. March corn closed 2.25 cents higher at $4.28/bushel Thursday afternoon, while May gained 2.0 to $4.355/bushel.

Profit-taking seemed to hit the soy complex Thursday. Talk of strong export demand, droughty conditions in Argentina and the NOPA crush report boosted the soybean sector Wednesday and again this morning. Oil seemed to be suffering from its position on the wrong side of the crush equation. However, beans and products reversed recent trends in late trading, which seemingly reflected profit-taking by heavily invested traders. March soybeans slipped 3.0 cents to $13.15/bushel at their Thursday settlement, while March soyoil bounced 0.06 cents to 38.05 cents/pound, and March soymeal sank $2.5 to $432.0/ton.

The wheat markets posted a surprising surge Thursday afternoon. The weekly USDA Export Sales report probably disappointed wheat bulls. However, they got a nice gift around midsession, when Egypt announced that it had bought a sizeable tranche of U.S. wheat. Weather maps suggesting the Great Plains are set for renewed drought also boosted prices. March CBOT wheat futures surged 5.0 cents to $5.7275/bushel in late Thursday trading, while March KCBT wheat futures rallied 9.0 cents to $6.25, and March MWE futures jumped 10.0 to $6.23.

Cattle futures backed away from early highs. Cash cattle prices in the Southern Plains jumped to the $141-$142 area Wednesday. That news was followed by the midday quotes well above the records posted yesterday. CME prices also leapt in early trading, but proved able to sustain only a portion of the advance. That suggests short-term consolidation. February cattle futures closed ‘just’ 0.72 cents higher at 140.15 cents/pound Thursday, while April futures added 0.27 to 139.22. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle futures gained 0.22 cents to 168.25 cents/pound, whereas May settled unchanged at 169.90.

Cash weakness probably limited hog futures Thursday. After proving generally strong Wednesday, the cash hog markets were called sharply lower around noon today. The ongoing cattle/beef spike, as well as wholesale strength apparently supported the nearby contracts, but the fact that the Chicago market is already trading at sizeable premiums to the official cash quote apparently limited bullish moves. February hogs gained 0.27 cents to 86.77 cents/pound at their Thursday settlement, while June lifted 0.35 at 101.75.

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