Corn futures traded higher on Thursday. Fund buying was triggered by strong export demand and tight cash market corn supplies. Weekly export sales reported this morning of 38.3 million bushels were at the high end of trade expectations. The market was unable to push above the three-week highs wet on Wednesday. March closed 1 cent higher at $6.43 and May was 1 1/4 cents higher at $6.49 1/2.  

Soybean futures closed higher on Thursday, marking the third consecutive session of gains. The market was supported by tight cash market supplies of soybeans and recent reports of export demand this week. However, weekly export sales reported this morning at 13.5 million bushels were at the low end of trade expectations. Gains were limited by improved weather conditions in Argentina and Brazil this week. March ended 1 3/4 cents higher at $12.17 and May was 1 1/4 cents higher at $12.25 1/2.  

Wheat futures traded lower on Thursday. Futures were pressured by profit-taking after the CBOT rallied to 4 1/2 month highs on Wednesday. Weekly export sales reported this morning of 20.4 million bushels fell in the middle of pre-report trade expectations. The recent rally has been driven in part due to concern about cold weather and winterkill in parts of Europe and the former Soviet Union. However, forecasts are calling for moderating temperatures in those regions. CBOT March closed 11 1/2 cents lower at $6.62 3/4, KCBT March is 4 3/4 cents lower at $7.17 3/4 and MGE March is 3/4 of a cent lower at $8.36.

Cattle futures closed lower on Thursday. Ideas that market ready supplies will be adequate for the near-term and easing concern about a winter storm over major feedlot regions weighed on futures. Cash market trade has not developed yet this week. Packers have slowed slaughter schedules due to poor margins, so the lighter demand for cattle could weigh on cash trade this week. February ended 55 cents lower at $125.15 and April was 33 cents lower at $128.90.

Lean hog futures traded mostly lower on Thursday. The market was pressured by profit-taking from recent gains. But losses were limited the firm tone in the cash market and on recent gains in pork cutout values. Packers appear to be holding slaughter near current levels with reports of some packers beginning to fill Easter holiday ham orders. February ended 5 cents lower at $87.58 and April was 60 cents lower at $89.75.