Corn futures were higher on Thursday with gains led by new-crop contracts. Strong weekly export sales were a bullish factor. Gains were extended in the new-crop months by a private acreage estimate that came in near 86 million acres, below trade ideas earlier this week of 87-88 million acres. March settled 3 1/2 cents higher at $3.71 3/4 while December '07 was 7 3/4 cents higher at $3.58 1/4.



Soybean futures settled slightly higher on Thursday. Gains were triggered by strong weekly export sales of over 33 million bushels that came in well above trade expectations. However, gains were limited by the NOPA November crush coming in below pre-report estimates. January ended 1 3/4 cents higher at $6.62 3/4 and November was 2 1/4 cents higher at $7.20.



Wheat futures were higher on Thursday. Support was generated from a private winter wheat acreage forecast this morning at 44 million acres, up 3.4 million acres from last year but on the low side of market expectations. In addition, weather forecasts look a little less favorable for moisture in the hard red winter wheat belt early next week. CBOT Mar was up 3 cents to close at $4.91 1/2. KCBT Mar was 3/4 of a cent higher at $5.09 1/2 while MGE Mar gained 2 cents to close at $5.08 1/4.



Cattle futures closed lower on Thursday. Lower cash prices pressured the market. Higher boxed beef cutout values and brisk beef movement this week were supportive factors, but this week's Immigration and Naturalization Service raids on the Swift meat packing plants continue to create anxiety. December was 60 points lower at $85.45 while February fell 52 points to close at $88.32. January feeder cattle were down 167 points at $97.40.



Lean hog futures posted sizable losses on Thursday even though there was little news to depress the market. Declining cash prices and cutouts values are typical for this time of year due to big supplies and sluggish consumer demand. February fell $1.28 to $62.25 and June dropped 98 cents ending at $72.60.