Livestock futures led the ag markets lower Thursday

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The weekly export data undercut grain and soy futures Thursday. The weekly USDA Export Sales report stated last week’s corn sales well below forecasts. That seemingly exacerbated pessimism stemming from China’s rejection of two more U.S. corn shipments due to contamination with an unapproved GMO strain. And yet, the yellow grain market traded firmly into the close, thereby illustrating its underlying support. March corn dipped 3.0 cents to $4.335/bushel at its Thursday settlement, while May lost 2.5 to $4.42.

Soy exports also disappointed. Not only did the weekly Export Sales report state last week’s soybean sales below expectations, meal and oil marketings also proved surprisingly small. A daily report indicating a recent 110,000-tonne sale to China probably mitigated the resulting pressure, as did a surprising rebound in soyoil values, possibly due to the lifting of meal/oil spreads. January soybean futures closed 1.5 cents lower at $13.28/bushel in late Thursday trading, while January soyoil climbed 0.26 cents to 40.61 cents/pound, and January soymeal dropped $2.2 to $428.1/ton.

The export report exacerbated the impact of Wednesday’s Canadian news. Wheat futures continued their bearish Wednesday reaction to the big Canadian production news early this morning. The losses grew after the weekly Export Sales total fell well short of forecasts. March CBOT wheat futures tumbled 9.75 cents to $6.52/bushel late Thursday afternoon, while March KCBT wheat futures fell 9.0 cents to $6.9525, and March MWE futures sank 8.25 to $6.8425.

Cattle futures suffered a technical breakdown Thursday. Generally supportive supply conditions, the winter storm threat and a favorable result on the monthly beef export report seemed set to spark a bullish breakout in cattle futures. Instead, the most-active February contract violated major chart support and turned sharply lower Thursday morning. That seemingly bodes ill for the short-term outlook. February cattle futures plunged 1.52 cents to 132.90 cents/pound at their Thursday close, while the April contract dove 1.20 to 133.75. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle declined 0.92 cents to 164.12 cents/pound, and March feeders dropped 0.22 to 164.42.

Hog futures proved surprisingly firm. Although persistent cash and wholesale losses are weighing heavily upon the expiring December hog contract, its 2014 counterparts reduced their early losses at Thursday’s close. That seemingly reflects ideas that any supply excesses now depressing the market will prove temporary. February hog futures settled 0.32 cents lower at 88.67 cents/pound Thursday, while June sagged 0.37 to 99.50.

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