May through August hog futures scored solid gains on support from a strong outlook for cash markets and wholesale pork prices throughout the summer. April lean hogs expired at 93.92, off 2, while most-active June gained 117 to $1.02.
Cattle futures settled higher after reports of more serious cash price negotiations filtered into the pit to reverse a late-morning decline. Apr live cattle contract closed at $118, up 52, Apr feeder cattle were up 112, at $133.
The combination of sluggish export demand and the potential for needed rain to reach parched plains pressured US wheat futures. May wheat in Chicago was down 12 1/4 at $7.40, May wheat in KC was down 21 at $8.64, and May MGE wheat dropped 14 ¼ to close at $8.89
US corn futures ended mixed, with nearby contracts continuing to succumb to speculative profit taking. May corn finished down 1 ¼ at $7.54
US soybean futures stumbled, reflecting slowing export demand and competition from Brazilian production, Soy-product futures ended mixed. May soy dropped 2 1/2 at $13.31, May soy meal ended 30 higher at $342.50 while May soy oil fell 49 to 56.87.
ICE cotton futures traded lower as USDA export numbers show cancellations, a clear sign that the high prices are tempering demand. May cotton dropped 1.31 to close at $19.6, and the July contract lost 2.64 to close at $1.78.
Weaker-than-expected U.S. jobless data and renewed fears about European debt breathed new life into gold as a place investors feel safe to park their cash. June gold closed up $18.30 at $1,473.90 an ounce, and April silver gained $1.61, to $41.85.
Oil futures finished higher Thursday as the dollar slid against the euro and traders remained focused on a drop in gasoline supplies. May crude gained $1 to $108.11 a barrel, May gasoline dropped a fraction to $3.23 a gallon, and May distillates fell 1.38 cents to $3.18 a gallon.
Natural gas futures rose Thursday as a smaller-than-expected build in inventories suggested that the market may have overestimated the pace of U.S. production. May Natural gas gained 7.1 cents to $4.21.
On Wall Street, the blue chips shed steep losses and ended the day modestly in the green as optimism over earnings outweighed a disappointing jobless report. The Dow gained 14 to close at 12,285, the Nasdaq fell one to close at 2,760, and the S&P 500 gained a fraction to 1.314.