Lean hog futures slumped Wednesday from a combination of Europe fears and further signs of excess supplies. December hog futures fell 0.07 cent, or 0.1%, to 85.15 cents a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME February hog futures fell 0.37 cent, or 0.4%, to 86.95 cents a pound.
Cattle futures fared better than the hog complex, extending a current trend in which tightening supplies of beef have mostly insulated cattle futures from broader weakness in outside markets. Cattle for December delivery fell 0.15 cent, or 0.1%, to $1.226 a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. February cattle traded lower by 0.35 cent, or 0.3%, to $1.2445 a pound. April cattle finished slightly higher. Feeder cattle for November finished unchanged at $1.4155 a pound.
US wheat futures ended mostly lower as outside macro concerns prompted a broad-based selloff. Renewed worries about the euro-zone debt crisis sent equities sharply lower and boosted the dollar, which is negative for commodities. Meanwhile, Wednesday's USDA supply/demand report was seen as mostly neutral for wheat prices as the government cut projected stockpiles slightly. Still, weak export demand is a key negative factor in the market and worries about crops in the southern Plains and Ukraine may limit the downside. KCBT December wheat led the way lower Wednesday, sliding 3.5% to $7.13/bushel. CBOT December fell 14c to $6.43 but MGEX December rose 4 1/2c to $8.76 on a lack of farmer sales; deferred contracts ended lower.
US soybean futures fell to one-month low, succumbing to broader based selling across asset classes. Global economic fears with concerns mounting about Italian debt encouraged traders to reduce risk exposure, analysts said. Sharp gains in the US dollar, falling equities and larger US and South American supply forecasts provided a host of negative influences to keep buyers sidelined, analysts add. CBOT Jan soy ended down 19 1/2c at $11.85 1/2/bushel.
Soy product futures slumped with soybeans, pressed by investor selling across asset classes. The absence of a bullish spark in government supply/demand reports, kept traders focused on outside market influences, analyst say. CBOT Dec soymeal ended down $4.50 lower at $303.10/short ton; Dec soyoil dropped 0.86c to 50.99c/lb.
Italy's political problems and a lack of clear solution to the euro-zone debt crisis is trumping the USDA's slightly lower forecast for US cotton. "The market is looking at the situation in Italy," says Penson Futures senior cotton analyst Sharon Johnson. "We're all kind of in bed together and when one of us gets pneumonia we all do." Cotton for December delivery traded 0.4% lower at 97.25c/lb.
Oil futures settled lower Wednesday for the first time in six sessions, after hitting their highest point in three months earlier in the day as a wave of both bullish and bearish news buffeted the market. For at least a day, the drop brought a pause to a month-long rally that added nearly $21 to the price of a barrel of oil. During the run-up, anticipation of tightening domestic supplies has outstripped concerns over Europe's sovereign-debt crisis. Light, sweet crude for December delivery ended the day down $1.06, or 1.1%, at $95.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange settled down $2.69, or 2.3%, at $112.31 a barrel. Front-month December reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, finished down 6.22 cents, or 2.3%, at $2.6442 a gallon. December heating oil settled down 1.75 cents, or 0.6%, at $3.0986 a gallon.
Rising inventory and continued weak demand, in part due to forecasts for lingering above-normal temperatures through the third week of November in the eastern half of the nation, continued to batter natural gas prices. Natural gas futures for December delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled 9.3 cents, or 2.5%, lower, at $3.652 per million British thermal units. The December contract is 27.1 cents, or 6.9%, below its settlement on Oct. 28, when it began trading as the front-month contract.
Gold futures fell Wednesday in a rout across equities and many commodities markets as investors worried about the financial health of Italy turned to the U.S. dollar for safety. The most actively traded contract, for December-delivery, fell $7.60, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,791.60 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Wall Street took a beating on worries over the euro-zone crisis. The Dow lost 389 to close at 11780. Nasdaq fell 105 to 2621. The S&P dropped 42 points to 1229.