Corn futures surged higher late in the session to post strong gains today. It looks like the funds finally began to cover a portion of their short position. Fundamentally, the news is light. Weekly export sales were a marketing year low last week. March ended 7 1/4 cents higher at $2.08 3/4.

Soybean futures traded higher through the day, but added to gains late in the session. A wave of short-covering rallied the market late in the session. Fundamental support came from recent export business from China and firm cash basis levels amid light country movement. March ended 5 1/2 cents higher at $5.32 1/2.

Wheat futures closed strongly higher thanks to a late session technical rally. Fund buying was triggered late after a fairly slow trading session. Fundamental news remains light other than very small weekly export sales posted last week. CBOT Mar was 8 1/2 cents higher at $3.08 1/4, KCBT Mar was 9 cents higher at $3.42 1/2 and MGE Mar was up 4 1/4 cents at $3.45.

Cattle futures continued to slide lower Thursday pressured by news that Tyson has suspended operations at four beef processing plants because of poor margins. February futures fell 105 points to close at $88.35.

Lean hog futures closed mixed on Thursday. The gap between cash prices and the February contract has narrowed, but is still more than $5. Traders are concerned that once the weather improves, there will be a flood of heavy hogs coming to market. February closed 5 cents higher at $75.80.