Corn futures closed solidly higher on Thursday. Technical buying and a supportive weekly export sales report pushed prices higher today. Weekly export sales were reported this morning at 42 million bushels, which was above trade expectations. Weakness in the dollar index and strength in the stock market and crude oil also were supportive factors. March ended 9 1/4 cents higher at $6.36 1/4 and December was 8 1/4 cents higher at $5.68.

Soybean futures traded lower on Thursday. The market turned lower after rallying the previous four sessions. Profit-taking from the near four-month highs wet earlier in the week pressured prices. Improved weather is being noted in South America. Rain is being forecast for Argentina and southern Brazil. But losses were limited by strength in corn, recent export business and export agreements with China and weakness in the dollar index. March closed 2 3/4 cents lower at $12.58 1/4 and November was 5 1/4 cents lower at $12.55 1/4.   

Wheat futures trading higher on Thursday, led by strong gains in the KCBT and MGE. The MGE was led higher by concern about dry soil moistures levels in the northern Plains. Other support for the wheat markets came from strength in corn, weakness in the dollar and USDA reporting the sale of 180,000 metric tons of U.S. SRW to Egypt. Weekly export sales reported the morning were below trade expectations at only 15.7 million bushels. CBOT March closed 2 3/4 cents higher at $6.28 3/4, KCBT March was 13 cents higher at $6.83 and MGE March was 6 3/4 cents higher (September MGE was up 28 1/2 cents).

Cattle futures closed higher on Thursday. The market was supported by short-covering and optimism for higher cash trade this week. Market ready cattle supplies are relatively tight and boxed beef prices have been moving higher. Some retailers are apparently already gearing up for spring grilling season given the mild temperatures this winter. February ended 28 cents higher at $126.78 and April was 75 cents higher at $129.65.

Lean hog futures traded higher on Thursday. The sharp rally in pork prices on Wednesday and firm cash prices supported the futures market. Pork cutouts were up $2.41, helping pull packer margins out of the red. Ideas that demand will continue to improve seasonally also led to some speculative buying today. April closed $1.33 higher at $90.23 and June was 83 cents higher at $99.45.