Corn futures are trading sharply higher at midday. Corn prices are higher led by May and July futures. Another round of export sales were confirmed by USDA this morning. Five million bushels were sold to China for the current marketing year, but a huge 57 million bushel sale designated as an unknown destination for 2012/13 delivery was also confirmed. The latter sale is also widely thought to be to China. Exports sales over the past week now total 112 million bushels. May corn is 25 cents higher at $6.49 and December is 7 ½ cents higher at $5.42 ½.

Soybean futures are trading higher at midsession. The market is once again trading bullish fears that supplies are limited against demand due to soybean production losses in South America topping earlier forecasts. This is producing some panic on the part of global consumers to cover forward needs just in case there is new evidence of further supply cutbacks. China made a splash overnight with large purchases of both corn and beans. The May contract is up 20 cents at $15.01 1/4 and the November contract is up 12 cents at $13.70 3/4.

Wheat futures are trading strongly higher at midday. Reports of Midwestern frost and freezes overnight are a factor, but not likely to have caused significant losses except in isolated low-lying fields. Further, very welcome rains in the Plains states over the next week would normally more than offset the frost reports. A bigger driver for wheat futures are the strong gains in corn stirred up by new, unexpectedly large export sales to China. Wheat’s competitiveness with corn as a feed-grain is lifting prices. CBOT May is up 15 ½ cents at $6.41 ½; KCBT May is up 9 ¾ cents at $6.49, and MGE May is up 7 ¾ cents at $7.75 ½.

Cattle futures are trading higher at midday. June futures posted a new contract low in early trade, but have bounced from the early low on a short covering. In light trade on Thursday in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas fed cattle were $2 to $3 lower from last week. With the recent strength in beef prices and lower fed cattle, packer margins have improved to near breakeven for the first time in several months. June cattle futures are 35 cents higher $112.72 and August is 20 cents higher at $115.65.

Lean hog futures are lower at midday. Cash hog prices and pork prices declined again on Thursday and are now near the lows for the year. Cash hog bids are reported to be down again on Friday morning, but actual trade volume is light. Corn prices and the stock market are up, but that hasn’t been enough to offset the bearish hog market fundamentals. May is $1.33 lower at $85.48 and and June is 33 cents lower at $87.10.