Corn futures closed steady to mixed on Thursday. The market was supported much of the day by weakness in the dollar index and signs of improved export demand. USDA reported export sales last week at 40.9 million bushels, which was above trade expectations and the largest amount in three months. However, gains eroded into the close talk that the recent rally had triggered an increase in farmer selling. March ended unchanged at $6.34 1/2 and May was 1/4 of a cent lower at $6.40. 

Soybean futures traded higher on Thursday. The market was supported by outside markets. The dollar index was lower today while crude oil and equities were higher following the Federal Reserve’s comments yesterday that they will leave interest rates low through 2014. Futures were higher despite some relief in South America from hot and dry conditions. Weekly export sales of 21.8 million bushels fell below the range of pre-report trade expectations. CBOT March closed 12 1/4 cents higher at $6.53 1/2 and May was 10 1/2 cents higher at $6.66 3/4. 

Wheat futures were higher on Thursday. Weakness in the dollar index and signs of improving export demand helped push futures higher for the sixth consecutive session. There is the threat of cold temperatures this weekend damaging some of the crop in the former Soviet Union due to the lack of snowcover. Weekly export sales reported this morning of 22.7 million bushels were within trade expectations, but were the highest amount in four months. CBOT March closed 12 1/4 cents higher at $6.53 1/2, KCBT March was 12 cents higher at $7.09 and MGE March ended 14 1/2 cents higher at $8.27 1/4.

Cattle futures closed strongly lower on Thursday. Profit-taking weighed on the market as traders are waiting for cash trade to develop this week and for the Cattle Inventory to be reported on Friday afternoon. Ideas for this week’s cash trade are for steady to firm prices. Boxed beef prices have turned higher this week, although packer margins remains deeply in the red. February ended $1.30 lower at $124.55 and April was $1.13 lower at $128.05.

Lean hog futures traded lower on Thursday. Technical selling and profit-taking pressured the market. Cash fundamentals are looking a little shaky. Pork cutouts were down 56 cents on Wednesday. Packer margins are poor and there could be an effort to push cash bids lower to improve margins. February closed 68 cents lower at $85.95 and April was $1.43 lower at $86.80.