Corn futures closed lower on Thursday. Spillover pressure from soybeans and crude oil kept the market on the defensive. But losses were limited by strong weekly export sales reported this morning. Commitments were a marketing year high 43.6 million bushels, the second consecutive week that sales were marketing year highs. March ended 2 3/4 cents lower at $3.81 3/4 and May was 2 1/2 cents lower at $3.93.

Soybean futures ended lower on Thursday. The market was pressured by the improved weather conditions in Argentina this week. In addition, weekly export sales of 19.3 million bushels were below trade expectations. The Census Bureau crush report for December was right on expectations at 141.4 million bushels. However, this reaffirmed the slowing pace of crush as December was below November and well below December 2007. March closed 12 cents lower at $9.70 1/2 and May was 12 1/4 cents lower at $9.77 3/4.

Wheat futures were strongly lower on Thursday. Outside market pressure and disappointing weekly export sales weighed on the market. Export sales last week were a marketing year low of only 0.9 million bushels. Crude oil futures and the stock market were lower while the dollar index traded slightly higher today. CBOT March closed 17 1/4 cents lower at $5.78, KCBT March was 18 cents lower at $6.08 and MGE March ended 15 1/2 cents lower at $6.57 3/4.

Cattle futures closed slightly lower on Thursday. The February contract hit new lows this morning before short-covering helped pull most months higher. But concern about the economy and weak cash fundamentals kept the market on the defensive. Light cash trade has developed this week down $2 from last week. Choice cutouts were down over $1 yesterday and were another $2 lower at midday. February ended 8 cents lower at $81.10 and April was 10 cents lower at $84.33.

Lean hog futures closed mostly higher on Thursday. The nearby contract's discount to the CME index provided support, and short-covering from recent losses helped push most contracts higher. But gains were limited by Russia banning pork imports from some U.S. processors because of "shipping issues". February ended 28 cents higher at $57.00 and June was 30 cents higher at $74.13.