Lean hog futures rebounded after drastic losses Wednesday as traders covered short positions and some investors who watch technical indicators considered the prior-day losses overblown. May hog futures closed up 122 at 88.47, June hog futures rose 142 to 88.77.
US live cattle futures moved modestly higher on Thursday as a series of signals pointed to firming beef demand. April Live Cattle closed up 42 at $120, April feeders lost 52 to close at $150.
U.S. corn futures jumped Thursday, after a selloff on Wednesday drove prices into territory that traders found too low to account for current tightness in supplies. May Corn surged 19 1/4 to $6.21.
Soybean futures also rose, propelled by strong weekly export-sales data and by ongoing concerns that supplies could tighten. Wheat futures closed higher, lifted by corn and by short-covering after May wheat also closed at a three-month low Wednesday. May wheat in Chicago ended up 14 at $6.24, May wheat in KC rose 11 1/2 to $6.37, and May soybeans gained 8 to close at $14.15.
A third consecutive week of US cotton export sales' cancellations wasn't bearish enough for cotton futures to unravel, mostly because shipments of the fiber are still strong. May cotton fell 40 at 91.53, July cotton gained 70 to end at 90.72.
Gold's early rally waned, leaving prices to end marginally higher Thursday, as investors weighed disappointing U.S. employment data against the possibility of another round of monetary stimulus. April gold gained $1.60 to close at $1,640.80, and April silver gained 29 cents to close at $31.76.
Oil futures crept lower Thursday, weighed by a disappointing reading on U.S. jobless claims that raised worries about the economy of the world's biggest oil consumer. May crude fell 40 cents to $102.27 a barrel May gasoline fell 4.86 cents to $3.15 a gallon, and May distillates gained a fraction to $3.12 a gallon.
Natural gas futures prices fell more than 2% to the lowest price since September 2001, on news of a growing supply glut. May Natural gas dropped 4.4 cents.
On Wall Street, a bout of weak economic data and continued concerns about major euro zone countries overshadowed generally upbeat corporate earnings, sending the markets skidding into the red. The Dow fell 68 to close at 12,964, the Nasdaq closed at 3,007, down 23 and the S&P 500 dropped 8 to close at 1,376.