Ag markets proved generally strong Thursday

Technical considerations seemed to cap corn futures Thursday. The corn market exhibited modest strength Wednesday night, but sagged as Thursday passed. The surprising aspect of the weakness was that it occurred despite a supportive Export Sales result and a surprisingly low planting forecast on the just-issued USDA long-term Baseline report. March corn settled up 0.5 cent at $4.405/bushel Thursday, while May added 0.5 to $4.465.

Demand and technical factors apparently sent the soy complex higher. Bearish traders' inability to force a test of underlying support Wednesday night seemed to prompt Thursday's technical surge. Bulls keyed upon the strong fall-winter pace of U.S. exports, but seemed to ignore bearish South American weather news, a poor result on the Export Sales report and a surprisingly large planting figure on the USDA Baseline report. March soybeans jumped 21.25 cents to $13.4425/bushel at their Thursday close, while March soyoil climbed 0.55 cents to 39.54 cents/pound, and March soymeal surged 9.3 to $452.8/ton.

Wheat futures followed soybeans higher. The wheat markets have exhibited considerable strength lately, with Kansas City and Minneapolis prices breaking out of downtrends in the process. The Chicago market apparently did the same Thursday despite a mediocre result on the Export Sales report. The acreage forecast on the USDA Baseline report wasn't particularly helpful either. March CBOT wheat futures advanced 8.5 cents to $5.955/bushel as Thursday's pit session ended, while March KCBT wheat futures gained 9.75 cents to $6.7275, and March MWE futures added 7.5 to $6.6225.

Rising packer bids boosted cattle futures again Thursday. Cattle traders have recently worried about declining wholesale prices and their potential to cut packer demand for cattle. However, beef packers reportedly boosted their bids for southern Plains animals this morning, thereby triggering a fresh surge in CME prices. April cattle futures leapt 1.62 cents to 142.40 cents/pound at their Thursday settlement, while August surged 0.92 cents to 131.42. Meanwhile, March feeder cattle spiked 2.22 cents to 170.72 cents/pound, and May soared 1.85 to 171.87.

Hog futures followed cattle higher. Wholesale pork prices rose strongly Wednesday afternoon, which almost surely encouraged hog traders at the CME. The late cash quotes rose only slightly, thereby discouraging bulls in early trading. The big cattle surge apparently shifted market momentum to bulls by late morning, but the pork cuts were stated lower at midday, so bulls backed away once again. April hogs closed up 0.55 cents to 94.92 cents/pound in late Thursday action, while June rallied 0.25 to 104.90.


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