Live cattle futures closed higher, marking a partial rebound from Tuesday's mad-cow disease induced selloff. Most cattle futures fell by their 3-cent limit for daily movements before a late afternoon confirmation and explanation by USDA eased some concerns. Apr cattle closed up 170 to $118. April feeder cattle gained 45 to $148.
Lean hog futures also moved higher after getting caught in the cattle selloff. May hogs closed up 52 at 87.12, June hogs gained 102 to 87.57
US soybean futures closed at another 3 1/2-year high, supported by ongoing concerns about lower output in South America and expectations for stronger Chinese demand. But corn and wheat fell as market participants perform spread trades--going long soy and short corn or wheat--and as expectations ease for a US temperature drop this weekend to potentially damage crops. May soybeans jumped 12 1/4 to $14.73, helping soy meal gain $1.80 to $413.90 and soy oil rise 36 to 55.65. But May corn fell 7 1/4 to $6.11 and May wheat in Chicago dropped 8 to $6.16, and May wheat in KC fell 1 to $6.32.
Cotton futures ticked lower in thin trade. May cotton fell 47 to 88.89; July closed down 66 at 90.80.
Gold futures ended nearly flat on Wednesday, recovering from their earlier losses as the Federal Reserve's latest statement didn't offer a clear course change in the central bank's monetary policy. June gold fell $1.50 to $1,642.30, June silver dropped 37 cents to $30.38.
Oil futures eked out a gain Wednesday after Federal Reserve officials reiterated plans to keep interest rates near zero for the next two years, a move seen as boosting the allure of commodities for investors. June crude gained 57 cents to $104.12 a barrel, May gasoline fell a fraction to $3.15 a gallon, and May distillates gained 3.16 cents to $3.16 a gallon.
Natural gas futures rose Wednesday, surging in the hour before trading closed as investors rushed to lock in profits after prices crossed back above $2. May Natural gas jumped 9.3 cents to $2.06.
Stocks rallied on Wednesday, with Apple's surge giving the Nasdaq its biggest gain of the year, while the Fed chairman reassured markets that the central bank would do more if necessary to lift the economy. The Dow jumped 89 points to close the day at 13090. The Nasdaq rallied 68 to 3029. The S&P 500 rose 18 to finish at 1390.