Corn futures traded lower on Thursday. Profit-taking following the solid gain in late February weighed on the market. Weekly export sales reported this morning failed to support the market as new commitments of 28.1 million bushels fell within trade expectations. There is some growing concern that corn for ethanol demand could slow due to tightening margins for ethanol producers. May closed 2 3/4 cents lower at $6.53 3/4 and December was 1 3/4 cents lower at $5.66 3/4.

Soybean futures were higher on Thursday for the ninth consecutive trading session. Fund buying and expectations of continued strong export demand from China supported the market. Weekly export sales reported this morning of 35.9 million bushels were above trade expectations. May ended 2 1/2 cents higher at $13.22 1/2 and November closed 5 1/4 cents higher at $12.94 1/4. 

Wheat futures closed mixed on Thursday. Winter wheat futures were pressured by technical selling and profit-taking from recent gains. Weekly export sales of 18.7 million bushels were below pre-report trade expectations. However, losses were limited at the KCBT by USDA reporting the sale of 120,000 metric tons of HRW wheat to Iran. The MGE was mostly higher on short-covering. CBOT May fell 4 cents lower at $6.64, KCBT May ended 2 1/2 cents lower at $7.06 while MGE May closed 6 cents higher at $8.17.

Cattle futures closed higher on Thursday. The market was supported by ideas of steady to higher cash trade late this week. Firm beef prices this week are currently expected to help feedlots get steady to firm prices compared with the $128-$129 trade last week. Firm beef prices are helping to narrow packer’s processing losses. Select beef hit a record high level on Wednesday. April ended $1.20 higher at $130.95 and June was 90 cents higher at $128.13.

Lean hog futures were lower much of the day, but turned higher into the close on Thursday. The weak tone in the cash market and the 75 cents decline in pork cutout values weighed on the market this morning. But futures rallied on ideas that pork demand will improve seasonally and market ready hog numbers will tighten over the next several weeks. April ended 78 cents higher at $90.20 and June was 65 cents higher at $99.30.