Ag markets proved rather volatile again Thursday

Corn futures reacted poorly to good export numbers Thursday. The corn figure on the weekly USDA Export Sales report came in toward the upper end of the forecast range, while shipments were huge. Futures reacted little despite big wheat gains, possibly due to formidable overhead resistance. Futures ended the day rather weakly. May corn sagged 2.25 cents to $5.0125/bushel late Thursday, while December inched down 1.75 to $5.0275.

The soy complex posted a late comeback. The soy industry apparently thinks the old-crop situation will ease as Chinese traders default on previous purchases and South American beans flow into the U.S. New-crop futures slipped Thursday morning, which may have reflected suspicions that delayed corn plantings will boost acreage planted to beans. However, bearish traders' inability to push the complex significantly lower seemingly opened the door to a pragmatic/technical bounce late in the day. May soybeans bounced 3.5 cents to $14.72/bushel as trading ended Thursday, while May soyoil rose 0.09 cents to 42.59 cents/pound, and May soymeal edged up $2.1 to $480.2/ton.

Several factors seem to be power the wheat markets higher. The simmering Black Sea situation has seemingly moved closer to a boil, which probably boosted wheat prices. Bulls could also point to persistent dryness in the southern Plains and likely excessive rain and cold in the northern Plains next week. Canadian planting intentions seemed somewhat supportive as well. May CBOT wheat futures surged 12.5 cents to $6.89/bushel Thursday afternoon, while May KCBT wheat futures jumped 13.75 cents to $7.595, and May MWE futures leapt 12.0 to $7.3625.

Cattle futures staged an impressive comeback Thursday afternoon. Cattle traders seemed confused about likely market direction this morning. However, beef prices rose again at midday, thereby suggesting packers will be more willing to pay up for country cattle tomorrow. Futures appeared to respond accordingly. June cattle futures gained 0.75 cents to 135.85 cents/pound at their Thursday settlement, while December gained 0.22 cents to 140.95. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle climbed 0.97 cents to 179.60 cents/pound, and August rallied 1.60 to 184.05.

Hog traders seemingly decided Wednesday's big gains were overdone. The hog market rallied sharply yesterday on ideas that midday cash and wholesale strength presaged a major seasonal advance. However, later reports were much less encouraging, which seemingly caused bulls to have second thoughts. June hog futures tumbled 0.70 cents to 125.55 cents/pound in late Thursday action, but December crept up 0.10 to 91.12.


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