Cattle futures closed with modest gains, lifted by a strong rally in corn futures. USDA reported big sales of corn to unknown destination, which traders assume to be China. Higher feed costs can discouraged livestock mangers from expanding production, notably feedlots, who fatten cattle before slaughter. Apr cattle closed up 37 to $118. May feeders finished the week up 20 at $148.
Lean hogs slid for second day on weaker pork prices. June hogs fell 82 to 86.60, and the July contract lost 95 to close at 87.52.
Nearby US corn futures surged on USDA announcing large export sales to China and to "unknown destinations," which traders assume is also China. Corn pulled up wheat as well, and soybeans rose on continued worries about strong export demand and tightening global supplies. May corn ended up 29 at $6.53; December corn gained 3 3/4 to $5.38. May wheat in Chicago closed up 16 1/4 to $6.42; May wheat in KC rose 7 1/4 to $6.46. May soybeans jumped 15 1/2 to $14.96; May soy meal ended up $7.80 to $427.40; and May soy oil fell 19 to 55.18
Cotton futures slipped in thin trade, with volume just half of 2011's daily average. May cotton fell 108 to 89.23, and the July contract dropped 88 to close at 91.23.
Gold futures edged higher Friday, setting a fresh two-week high as some investors sought the precious metal as an alternative to the U.S. dollar after a weaker-than-expected reading on the health of the U.S. economy. June gold rose $4.30 at $1,664.80, and May silver closed at $31.34, up 14.0 cents
Crude oil futures settled 38 cents a barrel higher at $104.93 a barrel Friday, as a late bout of short-covering pushed prices up for a fourth day. Prices had danced around either side of unchanged for much of the session, slipping in early trading on lower-than-expected growth in U.S. first quarter gross domestic product. May gasoline gained 2.29 cents at $3.20 a gallon, May distillates fell 1.37 cents $3.18 a gallon.
Natural gas futures rose Friday as investors begin to bet that prices near $2 have spurred demand and may result in production cuts. June Natural gas rose 6.0 cents to $2.18.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks advanced for a fourth day on Friday, led by gains in technology after stronger-than-expected earnings from Amazon.com Inc and Expedia Inc offset a weaker-than-expected reading on economic growth. The Dow gained 23 to close at 13,228, the Nasdaq closed at 3,069, up 18 and the S&P 500 gained 3 to close at 1,403.