Ag markets rose by varying degrees on Thursday

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Corn futures rose Thursday morning despite mediocre results on the weekly Export Sales report. Old crop sales at 314,700 tonnes were near the middle of pre-report forecasts, while the new crop total, at just 21,200, fell far short of expectations. Strength spilling over from the soybean and wheat markets, as well as advancing equity, energy and metal futures probably supported the yellow grain as well. May corn gained 5.75 cents to $6.4525/bushel at its Thursday settlement, while December rose 3.25 cent to $5.3125.

Tight spot markets and strong basis levels reportedly sent soybean futures higher Thursday morning. The Export Sales data seemed likely to undercut nearby futures and support new crop prices, but they had little noticeable impact later in the morning. Ideas that improving weather will not force additional Corn Belt acreage into beans may also be supporting the Chicago market. The combination of U.S. dollar weakness and equity, energy and metal market gains probably encouraged buying as well. May soybeans jumped 19.5 cents to $14.235/bushel late Thursday afternoon, while May soyoil climbed 0.59 cents to 49.77 cents/pound, and May soybean meal added $8.4 to $414.3/ton.

The wheat market finally seemed to catch on to the idea that recent frosts have seriously damaged production prospects for the U.S. winter wheat crop, since the Kansas City market led the other markets sharply higher Thursday. Actually, the gains were probably exaggerated by the fact that the nearby KCBT contracts were decisively breaking out above stiff chart resistance associated with their respective 40-day moving averages. Gains at the other markets were seemingly limited by the poor export data. May CBOT wheat futures surged 9.5 cents to $7.0125/bushel at its Thursday close, while May KCBT wheat soared 24.75 cents to $7.6375 and May MGE futures ascended 5.5 cents to $8.2325.

Cattle futures sustained their Wednesday surge Thursday afternoon. Although firm midday beef quotes very likely played a role in the advance, the main reason for the move may have come from the country. That is, beef packers reportedly boosted their bids for fed cattle rather significantly. And while those apparently attracted no fresh offers, traders almost surely interpreted that news as an omen of a sizeable cash market increase on Friday. They may be optimistic about early May prospects as well. June cattle rallied 0.82 cents to 122.90 cents/pound late in the Thursday CME session, while December added 0.60 cents to 128.22. May feeder cattle futures gained 1.10 cents to 142.20 cents/pound, and August jumped 1.52 cents to 152.15.

The hog market seemed to follow through upon its Wednesday surge on Thursday. A portion of that strength probably stems from the fact that most-active June futures overcame resistance associated with their 40 and 50-day moving averages yesterday, but bulls could also point to indications of morning strength from the direct Corn Belt markets. The industry is rather obviously expecting a substantial seasonal rally during the days and weeks ahead. May hog futures closed 0.37 cents higher at 88.97 cents/pound around midday Thursday, while the June contract surged 0.82 cents to 91.82.

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