Talk that ethanol production may not decline boosted corn futures this morning. The weekly Export Sales report stated last week’s total near the upper end of forecasts, which was probably supportive. But the early advance very likely stemmed from talk that U.S. ethanol producers won’t curtail production substantially despite the proposed cutback in the mandate; they are reportedly looking to the export market. December corn futures climbed 6.0 cents to $4.23/bushel around midsession Thursday, while May moved up 3.5 to $4.37.

Soybeans and oil are leading the ag markets higher. Talk of growing tightness in global palm oil supplies sent Asian prices to their highest level in over a year last night, which pulled the soy complex higher as well. Those gains were exaggerated by the Export Sales report, which stated the soybean and oil totals well above forecasts. Meal sales disappointed, thereby sparking CBOT selling. January soybean futures rallied 9.25 cents to $12.83/bushel late Thursday morning, and December soyoil jumped 1.19 cents to 41.51 cents/pound, but December soymeal declined $2.0 to $405.0/ton.

The wheat markets also rallied modestly. News of active Japanese buying seemed to boost wheat futures Wednesday night. Optimism about the export outlook was apparently justified by the weekly USDA Export Sales report as well, since the weekly total, at 618,000 tonnes topped forecasts ranging between 375,000 and 475,000 tonnes. December CBOT wheat futures gained 1.5 cents to $6.4875/bushel just before lunchtime Thursday, while December KCBT wheat futures gained 1.0 to $6.965, and December MWE futures inched up 0.25 cent to $6.98.

Modest cash losses sparked a late-morning cattle surge. This week’s wholesale weakness and futures losses had seemingly set the stage for a sizeable decline in country cash prices this week. However, fed cattle reportedly traded $1.00 lower at $131/cwt (cents/pound), which prompted a strong bullish reaction in Chicago. December cattle futures advanced 0.55 cents to 131.60 late Thursday morning, while April futures added 0.42 cents to 133.10. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle ran up 0.62 cents to 163.37 cents/pound, and March feeders ran up 0.47 cents to 163.65.

Hog futures set back from late-Wednesday highs. Ideas that forthcoming hog supplies may not prove as large as previously feared seemed to send hog futures sharply higher Wednesday afternoon. However, cash and wholesale quotes continued their late decline late yesterday, which apparently sparked renewed interest from sellers. December hog futures slid 0.27 cents to 85.97 cents/pound in late Thursday morning trading, while April fell 0.40 cents to 93.20.