Corn futures rallied sharply on Thursday, finding support from USDA's crop production estimate. USDA pegged the corn crop at 10.905 billion bushels, down 209 million from a month ago and about 250 million below trade expectations. Ending stocks for 2006-07 are now expected to be 996 million bushels, down 1.0 billion from 2005-06. December closed 14 1/4 cents higher at $2.98 1/4. March settled 14 1/4 cents higher at $3.08 1/4.



Soybean futures gapped higher at the open on Thursday and then traded as high as $5.90 before gains were trimmed at the close. Spillover support from corn and slightly bullish USDA numbers provided support. The production number of 3.189 was 24 million bushels below expectations and 2006-07 ending stocks of 555 million was 25 million under the average pre-report trade estimate. November closed 17 1/2 cents higher at $5.79 3/4 and January was 17 1/2 cents higher at $5.94 1/2.



Wheat futures closed lower on Thursday. The wheat market ran into heavy profit taking soon after opening higher and sold off rather sharply through mid morning. Some consolidation is expected over the next few days. USDA's supply/demand report was supportive as USDA trimmed the ending stocks estimate and slashed the production estimate for Australia. CBOT Dec closed 15 1/2 cents lower at $5.15 1/2. KCBT Dec was down 7 3/4 cents at $5.32 3/4. MGE Dec was 13 1/2 cents lower at $5.15 3/4.



Cattle futures were higher on the close Thursday, rebounding from recent weakness. This week's active cash market trade encouraged short covering and hedge lifting to lead futures higher. Strength in boxed beef cutout values provided fundamental support. October was 40 points higher at $88.75. December was up 80 points at $87.70. October feeder cattle were down 180 points at $107.45.



Lean hog futures closed strongly higher on Thursday. The discount of the December contract to October, which expires on Friday, and the lean hog index prompted the rally. Short-covering and some fund buying added to gains. October closed 38 cents higher at $65.03 while December was 118 points higher at $61.00. February was up 123 points at $63.30.