Corn futures were solidly lower on Thursday. Profit-taking from the gains posted yesterday and outside markets pressured trade. The dollar was higher and crude oil lower. Rain has slowed spring fieldwork in the Midwest this week, but drier weather is forecast, especially for the eastern Corn Belt. Strong export sales last week of 53.5 million bushels of old-crop corn helped limit further losses. May ended 8 1/4 cents lower at $3.48 1/4 and July was 8 1/4 cents lower at $3.59 1/2.    


Soybean futures closed lower on Thursday. Outside market pressure and profit-taking from the gains on Wednesday weighed on futures. The dollar was firm and crude oil lower today. Improved harvest weather in Brazil was a bearish factor as demand for U.S. soybeans should tail off in favor of South American supplies. But weekly export sales reported this morning were above trade expectations at 16.3 million bushels of old and new-crop soybeans. May was 6 cents lower at $9.46 1/2 and July ended 5 1/2 cents lower at $9.56.  


Wheat futures traded lower on Thursday. Profit-taking from the strong rally yesterday and the firm tone in the dollar pressured prices. Fundamentals remain mostly bearish given the large U.S. and world supplies of wheat. Strong winter wheat condition ratings remain a bearish factor. Losses were limited by better-than-expected weekly export sales of 19.6 million bushels of old and new-crop wheat. CBOT May closed 6 cents lower at $4.69 1/4, KCBT May ended 6 1/2 cents lower at $4.85 1/2 and MGE May was 2 1/2 cents lower at $5.03 3/4.   


Cattle futures closed lower on Thursday. Profit-taking weighed on the futures market after hitting the highest level in 18 months earlier this week. Cash trade developed earlier than normal this week at higher prices. With most cash trade already done for the week, futures traders have been left with little news to trade. Choice beef prices hit the highest level in 20 months earlier this week. April ended 10 cents lower at $99.35 and June was 43 cents lower at $94.33.


Lean hog futures settled mixed on Thursday. The April contract was lower on pressure from the weak tone in the cash market. Despite strengthening pork prices, packer margins are poor. But most deferred contracts turned higher today on speculative buying and continued reaction to the bullish Hogs and Pigs report that was released a couple of weeks ago. April closed 50 cents lower at $76.68 and June ended 13 cents higher at $84.73.