Most ag markets posted strong closes Thursday

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Corn futures proved surprisingly strong Thursday. Traders cited tight domestic supply conditions for a portion of the strength, as well as the prospect of continued delays to spring plantings for the CBOT gains. The weekly Export Sales report seemed generally neutral to supportive, since both the old and new crop result came in toward the upper end of forecast ranges. July corn surged 14.25 cents to $6.62/bushel at its Thursday close, while December advanced 8.5 cents to $5.59.

The expiring May soybean contract seemingly rose in response to ongoing supply tightness, but deferred futures were generally weak Thursday. The potential for a big acreage shift from corn to beans is probably undermining the market. The Export Sales report actually seemed to favor the later contracts, since the stated 2012/13 net came in at -109,800 tonnes, while the 2013/14 figure jumped to 1,341,100 tonnes. July soybean futures closed 0.75 cents lower at $13.7225/bushel Thursday afternoon, while July soyoil sank 0.36 cents to 48.49 cents/pound but July soybean meal climbed $1.8 to $406.2/ton.

Wheat futures moved generally higher Thursday. Actually, given the negative weather and crop news dominating the market lately, it was slightly surprising that prices did not rise more substantially. Ultimately, recent gains may have largely incorporated the bullish views held by many in the market. The Export Sales report seemingly had little impact, possibly due to the neutral nature of the old crop result (new crop sales seemed supportive). July CBOT wheat futures rose 7.5 cents to $7.285/bushel as the Chicago session ended, while July KCBT wheat climbed 8.75 cents to $7.9075 and July MGE futures jumped 10.75 cents to $8.2525.

Cattle futures continued their Wednesday surge Thursday. Late reports indicated considerable cash market firmness Wednesday afternoon, but spiking wholesale prices almost surely powered the market upward once again. For example, choice cutout jumped 0.81 cents to 200.30 cents/pound at midday, which marked its first time above the $2.00 level since October 2003. Beef certainly seems to be headed even higher. June cattle closed 1.17 cents higher at 123.65 cents/pound Thursday afternoon, while December gained 0.47 cents to 128.30. August feeder cattle futures climbed 0.92 cents to 149.65 cents/pound, while November added 0.77 cents to 154.27

CME lean hog proved unable to follow cattle futures higher Thursday despite very similar fundamentals. That is, tight seasonal supplies and resurgent consumer demand will very likely push cash hog and wholesale pork prices higher over the next 6-8 weeks. However, CME futures are already trading at substantial premiums to spot values. Moreover, the midday wholesale quote posted a stunning decline. June hog futures slipped 0.12 cents to 92.82 cents/pound in late Thursday trading, while December futures ended the day unchanged at 78.65.

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