Grain markets generally strong after Export Sales reports

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Corn futures responded surprisingly well to the weekly USDA Export Sales report, since the data seemed neutral-bearish, particularly for old crop values. Nearby futures rallied significantly soon thereafter, but set back to early-morning levels around midsession. Wire service sources cited tight country conditions and firm cash prices as supporting the Chicago market. May corn had risen 6.0 cents to $6.55/bushel just before lunchtime Thursday, while December gained 2.25 cents to $5.4525.

The weekly USDA Export Sales report seemed somewhat supportive of soybean futures, since the results came in toward the upper end of pre-report forecasts. Strong soymeal sales probably boosted CBOT prices as well. Tight country markets and firm prices also seemed somewhat bullish for prices. However, the idea that the latest rains will further delay spring plantings and shift corn acreage into soybeans seemed to weigh upon deferred soy complex values. May soybeans advanced 7.5 cents to $14.0025/bushel around mid-session Thursday, while May soyoil dipped 0.13 cents to 49.90 cents/pound, and May meal edged $2.6 higher to $395.5/ton.

Wheat futures also rallied in reaction to the weekly Export Sales data, since old crop sales topped forecasts and new crop commitments came in near the upper end of the predicted range. Weather also seems to be playing a substantial role in the wheat markets at this point. The moisture provided by the system sweeping across the country at this point will be very welcome everywhere, but the cold temperatures it brought to the Southern Plains may also have caused frost damage to significant portions of the winter wheat crop. May CBOT wheat futures added 2.75 cents to $6.995/bushel by late Thursday morning, while May KCBT wheat surged 8.0 cents to $7.38, and May MGE futures climbed 8.75 cents to $7.9325.

Cattle traders seemed to think the Wednesday CME breakdown was overdone, since short-covering reportedly boosted the Chicago market Thursday morning. The fact that feedlot operators in the western Corn Belt declined to take lower packer bids (as did their counterparts in the Southern Plains) may be sparking some buying as well. June cattle bounded 0.80 cents higher to 120.82 cents/pound around midsession Thursday, while December added 0.35 cents to 127.00. May feeder cattle futures rose 0.10 cents to 142.42 cents/pound, but August sank 0.02 cents to 149.12.

Wire service sourced also cited short-covering for powering the modest Thursday morning gains in CME lean hog futures. The concurrent cattle strength, as well as the sizeable wholesale gains posted Tuesday and Wednesday may also be supporting the swine market. The lightly traded May hog contract climbed 0.50 cents to 88.05 cents/pound in late morning action Thursday, while the June contract increased 0.47 cents to 89.97.



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