Corn futures closed higher on Thursday. The confirmation of an export sale of corn to China and continued weather threats for planting were supportive factors. Delayed planting is expected to trim corn acreage from planting intentions. Weekly export sales reported this morning at 28.6 million bushels of old-crop and 2.1 million bushels of new-crop were within trade expectations. Outside markets are mixed as the lower dollar index was supportive, but weakness in crude oil was bearish. July corn ended 3 1/4 cents higher at $7.45 1/2 and December was 5 1/2 cents higher at $6.76 1/4.
Soybean futures ended higher on Thursday. The market was supported by more rain in the Midwest that raised concern about delayed soybean planting. Trade estimates are for soybean acreage to be just slightly higher than USDA’s planting intentions number despite a decline in corn acreage from intentions. Weekly export sales reported this morning at 6.2 million bushels were within trade expectations. Futures rallied despite slower than expected crush. The Census Bureau crush report for April at 128.0 million bushels of soybeans fell below trade expectations of 129.3 million bushels. July closed 7 3/4 cents higher at $13.84 3/4 and November is 11 1/2 cents higher at $13.72 1/2.
Wheat futures traded strongly higher on Thursday. Adverse weather in the U.S. and European Union supported the market. The MGE led the rally and the front month hit the highest level in nearly three years amid spring wheat planting delays. Market expectations are for acreage to decline to around 13.8 million acres compared to planting intentions of 14.4 million. Poor hard red winter wheat conditions in the U.S. and drought in northern Europe are expected to trim global wheat production. CBOT July closed 18 cents higher at $8.14 1/2, KCBT July was 14 cents higher at $9.42 3/4 and MGE July ended 25 3/4 cents higher at $10.45 3/4.
Cattle futures traded lower on Thursday. Futures drifted lower as traders were already gearing up for the Memorial Day weekend. Disappointing economic data weighed lightly on the market. The government reported a surprise jump in first-time unemployment claims, which raised concern about demand. However, boxed beef prices have turned higher recently and cash markets are expected to stabilize soon due to favorable packer margins. June closed 53 cents lower at $104.03 and August was 65 cents lower at $104.58.
Lean hog futures closed lower on Thursday. The market turned lower on technical weakness as traders began positioning ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. Packer margins are poor and cash hog prices were lower again today. However, pork cutouts were up 87 cents on Wednesday and there is some talk that cash markets will stabilize next week. June ended 50 cents lower at $87.80 and July was 13 cents lower at $87.28.