Corn futures ended mixed on Thursday. Old-crop was higher on basis strength and strong export sales. Exports were a whopping 137 million bushels, the highest weekly total since 1991. The large sales figure was widely anticipated, though, based on last week’s daily sales announcements to China. New-crop prices were lower again Thursday on the favorable start to 2012 season. While planting has slowed this week due to wet conditions, the forecast for next week looks more favorable. July corn settled 3 cents higher at $6.14 ½. The December contract was 1 ½ cents lower at $5.29 ½.
Soybean futures settled lower on Thursday. Selling was attributed to bearish technical market signals accompanied by lower prices in other global commodities. On the technical side, July soybean futures traded to new highs on Wednesday, but then broke down at the close. This led to short-term selling pressure today. A stronger dollar and lower crude oil and gold prices also weighed on the market. USDA did report strong weekly export sales of 1.7 million tonnes and more overnight sales to China, a moderating bullish factor for new crop. July futures dropped 11 1/2 cents to close at $14.73 1/2 and November slipped 1/2 cent to close at $13.67 3/4.
Wheat futures traded mixed on Thursday. Wheat and corn prices rebounded after strong declines on Wednesday. Results from day two of the winter wheat tour indicate that Kansas wheat fields are in good shape, with adequate moisture and low disease occurrence. These factors coupled with favorable weather should boost wheat yields and place downward pressure on wheat prices. CBOT July was 1 cents higher at $6.15 1/2; KCBT July was 2 1/2 cents higher at $6.33; MGE July was 5 1/2 cents lower at $7.45 1/2.
Cattle futures closed higher on Thursday. Cattle futures recovered strongly, reaching the 3 dollar daily price limit during trading. US beef export sales are up 9% at 16,800 metric tons from the previous week, which indicates that the recent discovery of BSE had no effect on beef exports. Beef prices are encouraged as importers display confidence in US beef purchases despite an incident of BSE in California. Cash markets have been quiet, but look for sellers to hold firm following Thursday’s strength in futures. June cattle futures settled $3.00 higher at $115.875. August was $2.77 cents higher at $118.55.
Lean hog futures closed higher on Thursday. Hog prices rebounded following the big declines on Wednesday with the gains triggered by a modest increase in pork prices and short-covering. The market also benefitted from big gains in the cattle market. The June contract was up nearly $1.50 shortly before the close, but ended with a 62 cent gain at $84.93. July was 90 cents higher at $86.20.