Corn futures closed higher on Thursday. Short-covering was triggered by concern about the lagging crop maturity and outlooks for cooler weather in the Midwest, even though forecasts are mostly frost free for next week. The market was able to rally despite further sharp losses in crude oil and strength in the dollar. December closed 6 1/4 cents higher at $3.36 1/2 and March was 6 1/2 cents higher at $3.49 3/4.

Soybean futures ended mixed on Thursday, with front end contracts slightly lower. The market opened lower, but short-covering was able to help prices recover. Weather conditions remain generally bearish as frost has mostly been taken out of forecast for next week. Gains were limited by sharp losses in crude oil and strength in the dollar. November closed 2 cents lower at $9.18 1/2 and January was 1 1/4 cents lower at $9.23 3/4.

Wheat futures turned solidly higher on Thursday. Speculative short-covering pushed prices higher in the absence of fresh bearish news. Weekly export sales were at the high end of expectations, although for the marketing year commitments are down 38% from year-ago. The dollar index was up strongly today, but the index is still near the lows for the year. CBOT Dec closed 13 cents higher at $4.73, KCBT Dec ended 14 1/4 cents higher at $4.83 3/4 and MGE Dec ended 10 3/4 cents higher at $5.00 1/4.

Cattle futures settled lower on Thursday. The weak undertone in the boxed beef market and the premium of futures to cash pressured the futures market. There is some concern that cash trade will slip a little further this week despite seasonally tightening cattle numbers. Choice cutouts dipped to the lowest level since August 10 on Wednesday. October closed 35 cents lower at $86.10 and December was 48 cents lower at $85.28.

Lean hog futures closed lower on Thursday. Futures gave back some of the gains posted on Wednesday amid declining pork prices and steady to weak cash markets. Pork cutouts were down $1.76 yesterday. Traders are beginning to position ahead of the quarterly Hogs and Pigs report due out on Friday afternoon. There is concern the report will show inadequate herd liquidation. October ended 70 cents lower at $50.23 and December was 70 cents lower at $49.35.