Corn futures closed lower on Thursday. Technically overbought conditions and harvest pressure weighed on prices despite a strong weekly export sales report and higher soybean prices. Harvest activity is strong in the central and western Corn Belt. Weekly export sales this morning were strong at 45.6 million bushels. December ended 2 1/2 cents lower at $2.71 3/4 and March fell 4 1/4 cents to $2.83 1/4.



Soybean futures ended higher on Thursday. Strong weekly export sales coupled with buying interest from commodity funds and commercials supported prices. Exports were well above trade expectations at 43.9 million bushels. These factors outweighed increasing harvest activity and ideas of a large crop. November closed 10 1/4 cents higher at $5.65 1/2 and January gained 10 1/2 cents to close at $5.80.



Wheat futures were mixed at the close after a volatile trading session Thursday. Chicago December futures surged to another round of contract highs, climbing more than 20 cents at midday before retreating sharply on late profit taking to give back all of the daily gains. New-crop futures were pressured by expectations that the steep rally this fall will attract more acreage. CBOT Dec was down 1 cent to close at $4.64. KCBT Dec was 1/2 cent higher at $5.04 1/2. MGE Dec was unchanged at $4.85 1/2.



Cattle futures were higher on the close Thursday. Reports of light volume cash cattle trade at $92 in Texas sparked the rally. Ideas that active cash trade could develop this afternoon contributed to the strength. Despite concerns about poor packer margins, slaughter so far this week is running 1% ahead of last week's pace and 3% ahead of the year-ago level. October climbed 97 points to close at $91.35. December was 82 points higher at $90.10. October feeder cattle were up 52 points at $113.45.



Lean hog futures closed higher on Thursday as the cash market continued to hold up. Positive chart patterns and technical buying was supportive. However, cutout values haven't kept pace and packers' margins have plunged into negative territory, raising concern about the rise in cash unless pork cutout values improve. October closed 98 cents higher at $91.35 and December ended up 73 cents at $61.35.