Lean hogs ended mostly higher in a modest rebound as traders awaited the afternoon's hogs-and-pigs report. April lean hogs ended up 25 at 83.27, the May contract gained 17 to close at 91.92.
U.S. cattle prices fell Friday, ending lower as the market disregarded soaring grain prices amid weak beef prices and speculative selling. April live cattle ended down 2.1 at $120, while April feeder cattle slumped 245 to $148.
US corn, soybean and wheat futures surged Friday on USDA reports that renewed concerns of tight supplies. USDA reported unexpectedly low corn inventories as of March 1, raising near-term supply concerns that outweighed USDA's forecast for the largest US corn crop in 75 years. May corn settled at the limit on one-day gains, up 40 at $6.44. May soybeans hit a fresh six-month high, gaining 47 1/2 to $14.0. May wheat in Chicago gained 48 1/4 to $6.60, May wheat in KC jumped 43 ½ to $6.97.
US farmers are expected to plant 11% fewer acres with cotton this spring, but that estimate was below market expectations, and prices end the day unchanged. May Cotton for closed off 2 at 93.52, the July contract gained 19 to 93.92.
Gold futures rose Friday, extending the metal's gain during the quarter to more than 6% as traders bet Europe's expanded bailout fund would limit the risk of a credit crunch there. June gold rose $17 to $1,671.90, and May silver closed at $32.48, up 49.2 cents
Oil futures finished slightly higher Friday, ending the quarter with a net gain, as traders closed out bets following steep declines earlier in the week.
May crude gained 24 cents at $103.02 a barrel, April gasoline expired Friday, down 1.07 cents at $3.38 a gallon, and April distillates expired a fraction higher at $3.16.
Natural-gas futures slid to another 10-year low Friday after a late-day selloff dragged prices down for the fifth straight session. Natural gas's dismal results made it the worst-performing commodity in the first quarter of 2012, with the front-month contract losing 28.9% of its value during the period. May nat gas fell 2.3 cents to $2.12.
A brighter outlook for the U.S. economy and calming tensions over Europe's debt crisis whetted traders' risk appetite, sending Wall Street surging in its best first-quarter performance in 14 years. The Dow gained 66 to close at 13,212, the Nasdaq closed at 3,091, down 3 and the S&P 500 gained 5 to close at 1,408.