Corn futures traded higher on Thursday. The market rallied from early weakness on concern about dry weather in Argentina that is increasing crop stress. Weekly export sales were reported at 31.9 million bushels of old-crop and 2.7 million bushels of new-crop, which was within trade expectations. Export shipments of 53.1 million bushels were well above the pace needed to reach USDA’s export forecast. March closed 3 1/4 cents higher at $5.87 1/2 and May ended 3 1/4 cents higher at $5.95 1/2.


Soybean futures closed lower on Thursday. Disappointing export sales and the dollar turning flat after early weakness weighed on futures. Export sales for last week were reported at 3.1 million bushels of old-crop and 3.3 million bushels of new-crop, well below trade expectations ranging from 22-31 million bushels. Losses were limited by concern about dry weather in Argentina that is hurting soybean crop production prospects. January ended 7 1/2 cents lower at $12.89 and March was 7 1/4 cents lower at $13.00 1/2.   


Wheat futures settled lower on Thursday. Technical selling and improved weather forecasts for eastern Australia weighed on the market. But losses were limited by better-than-expected weekly export sales. Old-crop sales of 33 million bushels were above trade expectations. Dry weather in the western Plains remains an underlying supportive factor as crop conditions have been below normal heading into dormancy. CBOT March closed 15 cents lower at $7.49 3/4, KCBT March was 7 1/4 cents lower at $8.12 1/4 and MGE March ended 7 1/2 cents lower at $8.35 1/4.     


Cattle futures closed mixed on Thursday. Weakness in boxed beef prices and lower cash trade so far this week weighed on front end contracts. But deferreds were supported by the agreement with China on Wednesday to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports from beef from cattle under 30 months of age. February ended 38 cents lower at $103.53 while April was 5 cents higher at $107.35.


Lean hog futures ended lower on Thursday. Futures were pressured by the $1.16 drop in pork cutouts on Wednesday, the premium of futures to cash and concern about the cash market in the near-term. Cash bids were steady to lower today as most packers have needs covered for the week. Pork prices are expected to be soft due to seasonally sluggish wholesale pork demand. February closed 63 cents lower at $74.58 and April was 28 cents lower at $78.95.