Corn futures closed slightly lower on Thursday. The market was pressured by poor weekly export sales reported this morning and spillover weakness from crude oil. Export sales were a marketing year low at only 8.5 million bushels. However, losses are being limited by strength in soybeans and continued drought conditions in Argentina that is trimming yield potential. March ended 1 1/4 cents lower at $3.65 1/4 and May was 1 1/4 cents lower at $3.76 1/4.



Soybean futures were strongly higher on Thursday. The weekly export sales report released this morning was supportive as 50 million bushels of old-crop sales were well above trade expectations. China continues to be an aggressive buyer of U.S. soybeans. Hot and dry weather conditions in Argentina continue to be a concern for the soybean crop as weekend rainfall is expected to remain light. March closed 23 cents higher at $9.94 1/2 and May was 23 cents higher at $10.03 1/4.



Wheat futures traded lower on Thursday. Disappointing weekly export sales weighed on the market. Old-crop sales of only 3.2 million bushels fell well below trade expectations and the pace needed to reach USDA's export forecast. However, losses were limited by the rally in soybeans and concerns that cold temperatures in the winter wheat belt may be damaging some of the crop. CBOT March closed 5 1/2 cents lower at $5.68 3/4, KCBT March ended 5 3/4 cents lower at $5.94 1/4 and MGE March was unchanged at $6.41 3/4.



Cattle futures were lower much of the trading session, but closed mostly higher. Short-covering and ideas of firm cash trade this week supported the market. Beef prices continue to strengthen and at midday choice cutouts were up 82 cents. Strength in deferred contracts was limited by continued concern about an economic recession and less beef demand. February was $1.00 higher at $84.35 and April was 48 cents higher at $87.30.



Lean hog futures closed lower Thursday. Fund and speculative selling weighed on futures after several contracts hit news lows yesterday. Concerns about the economy and pork demand remain bearish factors. Pork cutouts were down $1.64 on Wednesday. February closed 10 cents lower at $59.83 and April was 85 cents lower at $65.85.