Hog futures gained support from the buying in cattle futures, offset in the front-month contract by the recent slump in cash hog prices. In the cash markets, the average prices paid by pork processors remain around five cents a pound lower than the February futures contract. February hogs picked up 5 to 85.57, April hog futures rose 37 to 91.10.
U.S. live-cattle futures ended mostly higher Wednesday, lifted by gains in wholesale beef prices and expectations that cold, snowy weather in the Midwest would support cash cattle prices, which are already at record high levels. February live cattle ended flat with Tuesday’s close at $136, April live-cattle advanced 62 to $136. Feeder-cattle futures also rose, the January contract picking up 42 to $168.
Corn dropped to the lowest price in five weeks after ethanol stockpiles were reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration at a three-month high and on speculation that USDA will raise its outlook for domestic production in a report on Friday. Wheat plunged on signs of slack demand after Egypt last week shunned U.S. inventories in favor of Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian and French wheat, while soybeans were little changed.
March Corn dropped 9 to $4.17, March Chicago wheat dropped 13 3/4 to $5.88, March KC wheat fell 8 ¼ to $6.37, and March soybeans fell 6 ¾ to $12.69.
Cotton futures fell on Wednesday retreating from a three-month settlement high. Cotton Inc. economist reported yesterday at the Beltwide Cotton Conference in New Orleans that percentage of cotton in clothing is still below pre-recession levels. March cotton dropped 18 to 84.49, and the May contract closed at 83.22, down 141.
Gold futures extended their earlier losses on Wednesday after details from the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting showed most policy makers agreed it was the right time to begin rolling back its stimulus.
February Gold traded down $7.60 to $1,222, March silver closed at $19.53, down 24.80 cents.
Oil futures tumbled to a five-week low after government data released Wednesday showed tepid demand for petroleum products. February crude fell $1.34 to $92.33 a barrel, February gasoline dropped 2.23 cents to $2.65 a gallon,, and February distillates fell a fraction to $2.94 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures sank to a one-month low Wednesday as forecasts for warmer temperatures sparked concerns that demand for the heating fuel will fade in the next few weeks. February Natural gas fell 8.3 cents to $4.21
On Wall Street, stocks were mostly lower as investors pick over minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting and look ahead to the beginning of corporate earnings reports. The Dow dropped 68 to 16,462, the Nasdaq closed at 4,165, up 12 and the S&P 500 fell a fraction to 1,837.