U.S. lean hogs ended mostly higher, continuing to gain on tight hog supplies, strong pork prices and upside technical momentum. Traders said tightening supplies are a major feature of the current market, while strong pork prices are improving processor margins, which have been negative. June lean hogs closed up 77 to 94.75, while July hogs gained 57 to 94.52.
U.S. cattle futures stumbled Thursday, extending their slump amid expectations of reduced beef demand and fund liquidation, analysts said. June live cattle ended down 75 to $116, Feeder cattle continued to fall after setting a fresh high Tuesday, with the August contract ending down 215 to $156.
U.S. corn futures settled higher on stronger cash markets and uncertainty in weather forecasts, with the front-month contract reaching a three-week closing high. July corn rose 9 to $6.01
Separately, soybean futures closed lower despite strong data released in the morning for both weekly exports and monthly crushings. The weakness was likely caused by speculative funds selling futures to exit long positions, as managed funds hold a large net long position in soybeans, July soybeans fell 22 1/4 cents to $13.86. Wheat futures closed higher, boosted by higher corn prices and strong export-sale announcements. July wheat in Chicago rose 7 1/2 to $6.23 July wheat in KC gained 5 ½ to $6.46.
NY cotton futures surged by the exchange-permitted limit to settle at a nearly one-month high after a massive sale of US cotton to China. But don't expect a bull market out of it, analyst say. July cotton closed limit up at 78.09, the highest settlement in almost a month. The October contract gained 104 to 70.30.
Gold ended near flat Thursday, as hopes for possible U.S. monetary easing were balanced out by investor worries about the financial stability of euro-zone economies. August gold gained 20 cents to $1,619.60 an ounce, and July silver closed at $28.40, down 53.4 cents.
Crude oil futures rose Thursday, settling near $84 a barrel, amid fresh hopes of a new move by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the U.S. economy. July crude gained $1.29 a barrel to $83.91 a barrel, July gasoline-gained 2.10 cents to $2.67 a gallon, and July distillates gained 1.69 cents to $2.62 a gallon.
Natural gas futures surged more than 14% to their highest level in more than two weeks after the government reported a smaller-than-expected increase in gas stockpiles last week, suggesting demand is better than expected. July nat gas gained 31 cents to $2.49.
On Wall Street, stocks rose on Thursday after news major central banks are preparing coordinated action if the results of Greek elections this weekend generate turmoil in financial markets. the Dow gained 155 to close at 12,651, the Nasdaq closed at 2,836, up 17, and the S&P 500 gained 14 to 1,329.