Washington news undercut corn Thursday. The weekly USDA Export Sales report met expectations, which left the corn market open to weakness spilling over from the soybean market. Moreover, late-morning news that two Senators had introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate the U.S. ethanol mandate weighed heavily. Conversely, the late bounce from midsession lows was impressive. March corn futures fell 5.0 cents to $4.3425/bushel at their Thursday close, while May lost 5.25 cents to $4.425.

Technical selling seemingly sent the soy complex lower. The weekly Export Sales report seemed quite supportive of the soybean market, since the sales total easily topped industry forecasts. However, the nearby contracts apparently failed at pivotal levels on their respective charts, thereby triggering aggressive selling from antsy traders worried about large South American crops. January soybeans dove 20.25 cents to $13.2375/bushel in late Thursday trading, while January soyoil dropped 0.41 cents to 39.99 cents/pound, and January soymeal plunged $8.8 to $430.1/ton.

The wheat markets joined the crop market decline. The wheat sales total on the weekly USDA report also proved unremarkable, which may have opened the market to selling spilling over from soybeans. The fact that winter wheat futures were leading spring prices lower may have reflected late reports that snow cover is protecting U.S. crops from the severe cold. March CBOT wheat futures tumbled 7.0 cents to $6.3375/bushel late Thursday afternoon, while March KCBT wheat futures sank 6.5 cents to $6.7825, and March MWE futures slid 4.5 cents to $6.64.

Bullish cash expectations reportedly boosted cattle futures Thursday. Short-term cash market expectations seemingly turned more positive today, which translated into rising Chicago prices. However, the midsession beef report stated choice cutout sharply lower, thereby reflecting a breakdown in rib values (likely due to the end of grocery industry buying for Christmas dinner entrees). That probably limited the CME rise. February cattle futures settled 0.30 cents higher at 133.10 cents/pound Thursday, and April futures added 0.30 to 134.12. Meanwhile, January feeder cattle leapt 1.40 cents to 167.07 cents/pound, while March feeders surged 1.05 to 166.55.

Hopes for renewed seasonal strength seemingly supported hog futures. Cash market losses late last week and earlier this week apparently weighed heavily upon CME futures, particularly with pork prices also under pressure. However, talk of firming cash quotes and improved demand sparked increased optimism in the CME swine pit Thursday. February hog futures bounced 0.22 cents to 88.00 cents/pound as trading wound down Thursday, while June rose 0.20 to 99.80.