U.S. lean hog futures ended higher, climbing to a four-week high amid strong pork prices. CME lean hogs for December ended up 0.25 cent to 88.3 cents/pound. Gains in wholesale pork Wednesday, along with expectations that cash hog prices will rise Monday, were supportive, and demand is seen as solid. The market shrugged off pressure from the dollar, which sent most other agricultural commodities lower.
U.S. livestock futures were mixed Friday, with live cattle inching lower on outside market pressure while lean hogs climbed amid solid pork prices. CME live cattle for December delivery ended down 0.3 cent at $1.211 per pound, while CME January feeder cattle closed down 1.175 cents to $1.144625. Live cattle and most other agriculture commodities were pressured by a stronger dollar, which climbed as worries about Europe's debt crisis continue to grow. A stronger dollar makes U.S. exports less attractive, and the prospect of a global economic downturn resulting from Europe's problems would also hurt demand.
US wheat futures slumped on economic fears and strength in the US dollar. Investors maintained a risk-off mentality that supports USD, which is negative for commodity prices. Wheat's supply and demand fundamentals remained mostly negative, as even supportive weekly export sales failed to offset concerns about cheaper competition beating out US suppliers longer term, analysts said. CBOT March wheat finished down 5 1/4c at $5.89/bushel; KCBT March wheat dropped 5 1/2c to $6.54; MGEX March wheat settled down 9c at $8.07 1/2.
US soybean futures ended lower Friday, finishing down 5.3% for the week. A general lack of fresh supportive news for soybeans, low trader volume and lingering concerns over the state of the global economy pressured prices, analysts say. Decent weekly export sales limited losses, but failed to offset the general risk-off theme of investors, analysts add. CBOT Jan soy dropped 16c to $11.06 1/2/bushel.
Soy product futures ended mixed, with soyoil slumping to a 13-month low in unison with soybeans. The liquidation of investment fund positions in soyoil led to the market's demise, while soymeal managing to hold steady on traders liquidation long soyoil/short soymeal positions, analysts say. CBOT Dec soyoil ended down 1.09c at 48.23c/lb; Dec soymeal ends up $0.20 to $282.70/short ton.
Continued concern about the spread of Europe's crisis is keeping a lid on cotton prices and likely preventing a rebound. ICE Cotton March futures settled down 0.8% at 90.15c/lb.
Oil prices see-sawed Friday before finishing the day largely even, falling on worries about European debt but rising with U.S. equities. Fewer than 300,000 contracts were traded, less than half of normal levels, as many traders took the post-Thanksgiving day off, and the market closed an hour earlier than normal. Light, sweet crude futures for January delivery ended the day up 60 cents, or 0.6%, at $96.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange ended down $1.12, or 1%, at $106.64 a barrel.
Meanwhile, front-month December reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled down 6.88 cents, or 2.7%, at $2.4489 a gallon. December heating oil ended down 3.18 cents, or 1%, at $2.9273 a gallon.
Natural gas futures finished higher in thin trading Friday, buoyed by cooling weather and anticipation of falling inventories. Meanwhile, the recent bout of mild weather is beginning to give way to falling temperatures across the U.S., offering expectations that gas-fired heating demand will rise. Natural gas for December delivery settled up 8.2 cents, or 2.4%, to $3.542 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract expires at the close of trading Monday. The more heavily traded January contract settled up 5.7 cents, or 1.6%, to $3.665/MMBtu.
A fresh set of European credit-rating downgrades sent investors seeking safety in the dollar Friday, pushing gold futures lower for the third time in four sessions. The most actively traded gold contract, for December delivery, fell $10.20, or 0.6%, to settle at $1,685.70 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Stocks traded for a half day on Friday, with slight losses. The Dow dropped 25 to close the week at 11231. The Nasdaq finished at 2441, down 18. The S&P 500 lost 3 points to 1158.