Corn futures ended mixed. Old-crop futures had a firmer tone all day and added to gains near the close. Tightening physical supplies and strong basis levels supported May and July contracts as exports work on filling recent export bookings. Weekly export sales were solid at 32.5 million bushels. Rumors of additional sales to China were back in the market. Traders also focused on the July/December spread, buying July and selling December futures. May corn settled 13 cents higher at $6.24. The December contract was 3 cents lower at $5.35.
Soybean futures settled mixed on Thursday. Old-crop futures closed with gains after trading mostly lower for the session. USDA did report record old-crop weekly export sales for any week past April 1 of the crop year. Sales of the old-crop totaled 926,000 tonnes. Along with sales of 483,000 tonnes of new crop, total sales of 1.4 million tonnes well exceeded top expectations of 1.3 million. New-crop futures were weak under technical selling pressure and favorable weather outlooks. May futures closed 7 3/4 cents higher at $14.81 1/4 but November lost 11 3/4 cents at $13.58 3/4.
Wheat futures closed sharply mixed Thursday, with CBOT and KCBT futures staging a good rebound from yesterday, while MGE futures suffered an even worse loss than yesterday. Positive drivers for CBOT and KCBT futures were stronger than expected weekly export sales, a rebound in corn futures, strong outside markets, and reports that Argentine wheat farmers are so disgusted with export controls they may seed much less. But for the MGE, the dominant factor was escalating rain forecasts for both the U.S. Northern Plains and the dry western Canadian Prairies that badly need soil moisture recharge and stand to get it over the next week to ten days. The longstanding premium of MGE futures to the others shrank markedly today as a result. CBOT May closed 9 ½ cents higher at $6.26; KCBT May closed 7 ¼ cents higher at $6.39 ¼; while MGE May closed 15 cents lower at $7.67 ¾.
Cattle futures closed mixed. Futures retreated from early highs. The June futures contract held on to modest gains as the market rebounded from the BSE news earlier this week. So far only Indonesia has placed import restrictions on U.S. beef and it’s not a total ban. Indonesia accounts for only about 1% of U.S. beef exports. Still, foreign consumer demand is a concern, particularly in Asia. June cattle futures settled 10 cents higher at $112.37. August was 55 cents lower at $115.45.
Lean hog futures closed mostly lower on Thursday. Prices tried to rally near midday with support from outside markets but the dismal cash market fundamentals pushed futures back down again. Cash hog prices and the cutout values continued to decline on Wednesday with no sign of improvement in sight. The May contract finished down 33 cents, falling to $86.80. June was up at midday, but closed at $87.43, down 15 cents.