Corn futures close steady to fractionally lower on Thursday. Profit-taking from the recent rally to six week highs, further weakness in crude oil and strength in the dollar were bearish factors. However, the rally in soybeans and concerns about dry conditions in South America trimming corn production potential were supportive. March ended unchanged at $3.89 1/2 and July was 1/4 of a cent lower at $4.10 3/4.



Soybean futures settled higher on Thursday. Strong export demand and dry weather in Argentina and parts of Brazil that is trimming yield potential were supportive factors. Weekly export sales of 33.1 million bushels were above pre-report trade estimates. However, gains were limited by weakness in crude oil and strength in the dollar. January closed 5 1/2 cents higher at $8.69 1/2 and March was 5 1/2 cents higher at $8.74 1/2.



Wheat futures posted solid gains on Thursday. Short-covering pushed prices higher as cold temperatures are invading the Plains and possibly harming the winter wheat crop. After a brief warm-up, another cold snap is expected later this weekend into early next week. Outside markets limited further gains. CBOT March closed 14 cents higher at $5.71 1/2, KCBT March was 12 3/4 cents higher at $5.91 and MGE March settled 11 cents higher at $6.30.



Cattle futures closed strongly lower on Thursday. Strength in the dollar and uneasiness about the cash market pushed prices lower. Futures had been trading at the high end of cash trade expectations for this week. Some cattle traded at $83-$84 in Kansas compared to $85 the previous week. Traders were also gearing up for the Cattle on Feed report due out Friday afternoon. February was $1.18 lower at $85.70 and April ended $1.08 lower at $88.38.



Lean hog futures were mostly higher on Thursday. While February was pressured by continued weakness in the cash market and strength in the dollar, deferreds rallied. Ideas that the Hogs and Pigs report due out near the end of the month will show reduced hog numbers were supportive. February ended 15 cents lower at $62.48 while April was 18 cents higher at $69.65.