Grain markets decidedly mixed Thursday

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Corn futures were weak Thursday morning after rallying Wednesday, but moved modestly higher late in the day. Poor results on the weekly Export Sales report weighed upon prices, but surging soybean futures apparently pulled the nearby contracts upward. Deferred futures also rose, thereby seeming to reflect the persistence of cold, damp weather over the Corn Belt and the growing possibility of delayed plantings. May corn edged 0.50 cents higher to $7.33/bushel at its Thursday close, while December gained 1.5 cents to $5.685.

Soybean futures continued their Wednesday surge Thursday despite a disappointing result on the weekly USDA Export Sales report. Talk of potential Chinese buying, tight U.S. stocks and technical considerations reportedly powered the rise. Indeed, the May CBOT contract blasted past chart resistance associated with its 50, 100 and 200-day moving averages (MAs) on its way higher. Conversely, it settled on a par with its 40-day MA, which might emerge as significant technical resistance. May soybeans jumped 29.25 cents to $14.49/bushel in late Thursday afternoon, while May soyoil climbed 0.58 cents to 50.42 cents/pound, while May meal gained $8.0 to $421.8/ton.

The disappointing results of the weekly USDA Export Sales report seemed to weigh heavily upon wheat futures Thursday. Both old and new crop sales came in at or below pre-report forecasts, thereby suggesting export demand for the golden grain is not as strong as previously thought. Persistent improvements in Great Plains growing conditions may also be undercutting the market. May CBOT wheat futures dipped 7.25 cents to $7.2875/bushel at its Thursday afternoon settlement, while May KCBT wheat lost 5.75 cents to $7.605, and May MGE futures dropped 6.0 cents to $8.0275.

Cattle ended Thursday in decidedly mixed fashion. Futures apparently reacted positively to news that the packing industry may be able to avoid summer closings after Congress passed legislation to that effect this week. Conversely, diving beef cutout values suggest consumer demand remains weak, thereby seeming to bode ill for late spring and summer, when cattle and beef supplies traditionally surge to annual highs. April cattle futures rose 0.37 cents to 126.42 cents/pound Thursday afternoon, while August advanced 0.30 cents to 123.52. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle added 0.65 cents to 138.30 cents/pound, and August climbed 0.95 cents to 148.10.

Despite persistent signs of cash and wholesale weakness, CME lean hog futures rebounded Thursday. As in the cattle pit, that may reflect a bullish response to the increased possibility that the packing industry will avoid shutdowns due to USDA meat inspector furloughs. Traders also realize that the hog and pork complex has a history of rallying strongly during the second quarter. Futures also seemed due for a technical bounce. April hogs closed 0.47 cents higher, at 78.35 cents/pound Thursday, while June jumped 1.05 cent to 89.55.

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