Corn futures were higher on Thursday, although gains were trimmed from the highs. The market was supported by the recent sale of corn to China and optimism for more business to develop. The strong weekly export sales number this morning, weakness in the dollar and strength in crude oil were also supportive factors. Weekly export sales of 56.4 million bushels of combined old and new-crop sales were above trade expectations. May closed 3 1/2 cents higher at $3.60 1/2 and July was 5 cents higher at $3.69.


Soybean futures closed higher on Thursday. Spillover support from corn, solid weekly export sales and outside markets supported soybeans. The dollar was lower while gold and crude oil higher today. Weekly export sales were only 3.7 million bushels for old-crop, but 25.4 million for new-crop. In the daily reporting, USDA reported the sale of 120,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China for delivery during the 2009/10 crop year. May ended 3 cents higher at $3.85 3/4 and July was 2 1/2 cents higher at $9.96.    


Wheat futures traded higher on Thursday. The short-covering rally was driven by weakness in the dollar, spillover support from corn and soybeans and decent weekly export sales reported this morning. Weekly export sales of 6.4 million bushels of old-crop and 10.8 million bushels of new-crop were above trade expectations. CBOT May was 8 1/4 cents higher at $4.84 1/2, KCBT May ended 6 cents higher at $4.97 1/2 and MGE May closed 4 cents higher at $5.17.


Cattle futures closed higher on Thursday. News of steady cash trade in Nebraska and the strong rebound in the stock market helped support futures. Improving beef export markets have also helped support futures recently. Choice beef prices were up 31 cents at midday, recovering some of the 50 cent losses on Wednesday. April ended 93 cents higher at $98.98 and June was 45 cents higher at $93.88.


Lean hog futures traded lower on Thursday. Some weakness in the cash market and the recent drop in pork cutout values weighed on futures. Pork prices have dropped $1.58 after hitting a 20-month high on Monday. Losses in the futures market were limited by tight supplies of market ready hogs that are expected to limit weakness in the cash market. June closed 78 cents lower at $83.83 and July was 75 cents lower at $83.90.