Grain futures generally peformed well Thursday

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Corn futures performed quite well in the wake of the Thursday morning USDA Export Sales report. Not only did the net result for 2012/13 and 2013/14 sales fall well short of expectations in 450,000-650,000 tonne range, the 2013/13 figure actually represented a net decline of 49,600 tonnes. Ultimately, traders may have been unwilling to sell prior to the Friday morning release of the USDA WASDE report, although equity strength and U.S. dollar weakness were supportive of major U.S. export products such as corn. May corn gained 2.75 cents to $6.9125/bushel at its Thursday afternoon close, while December lost 2.5 cents to $5.4175.

Soybean futures belatedly rallied in response to strong export sales last week. The total for the current crop year and next came in toward the upper limit of pre-report forecasts, thereby reinforcing ideas that Brazilian logistical problems are diverting buyers to U.S. market. Still, soybean traders did not seem very willing to buy soybeans before the WASDE report. May soybeans rose 7.5 cent to $14.735/bushel Thursday afternoon, while May soyoil climbed 0.35 cents higher to 50.61 cents/pound, and May meal advanced just $0.8 to $436.1/ton. The flat performance was particularly surprising since recent exports have been massive; the industry was apparently expecting the large total.

The wheat market reacted well to the large sales total on the USDA Export Sales report. The latest result, at 828,100 tonnes, easily topped forecasts in the 350,000-550,000 tonne range. The weak Thursday morning reaction seemingly indicated that traders were unwilling to act aggressively prior to the release of the Friday morning WASDE report. May CBOT wheat futures had surged 11.75 cents to $6.955/bushel when it settled Thursday afternoon, while May KCBT wheat jumped 9.75 cents to $7.345, and May MGE futures climbed 10.5 cents to $7.955.

Cattle futures continued their recent decline early Thursday morning, but the deferred contracts ended the day having risen modestly. The recent spike in wholesale prices apparently slowed, thereby robbing the market of bullish momentum. Talk that country cattle were again trading flat with the consensus price from last week (around 128 cents/pound) may also have undercut bullish arguments. April cattle slipped 0.50 cents to 128.95 cents/pound at their Thursday close, while August had advanced 0.45 cents to 125.25. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle gained 0.37 cents to 142.62 cents/pound, while August climbed 0.40 cents to 151.85.

Hog futures rebounded sharply from deeply oversold levels Thursday. Large wholesale losses had depressed the market earlier in the week, but the cash markets are showing definite signs of firming. That probably persuaded numerous traders that the recent breakdown had run its course, which in turn caused them to cover sizeable short positions. April hogs settled 2.55 cent cents higher, at 81.80 cents/pound, Thursday afternoon, while June leapt 2.57 cents at 92.02.

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