Lean-hog futures finished mostly lower. Nearby hog futures fell sharply following a steep drop in wholesale prices for hogs and pork, evidence to some traders that the highest prices of the summer are now in the rear-view mirror. July hog futures fell 105 to 95.82, August hogs, the most actively traded, shed 200 to 92.87.
U.S. cattle futures on Thursday showed burn marks from the ongoing U.S. summer heat wave, which threatens to dry up consumer demand for grilling and eating heavier meals. August Live cattle closed down 32 to $119, August feeders dropped 145 to $145.
U.S. corn futures surged to fresh highs Thursday, as worries continued to mount over a drought withering crops across the Midwest.
July Corn, due to expire Friday next week, jumped 49 1/4 to $7.68, approaching the all-time record levels for the front-month contract hit 13 months earlier, the December contract rose 34 to $7.08.
In other markets, soybean futures also jumped Thursday on continued concerns about the drought. July soybeans rose 54 1/4 to $16.26.
Wheat futures also rose, boosted by corn's gains since the two crops compete in the animal-feed market, and by worries about world output. Dryness in the Black Sea region and Australia have lowered output expectations for those areas and could lead to greater U.S. exports, analysts say. September wheat in Chicago rose 38 3/4 to $8.38, September wheat in KC rose 40 1/2 to $8.43.
Cotton futures declined under the stronger dollar and expectations that USDA will report more cancellations in US cotton export sales today. December cotton shed 202 to 70.58, and near-month July lost 183 to 70.92.
Gold futures eased on Thursday as investors moved to the U.S. dollar at the expense of the precious metal after the announcement of interest rate cuts from the European Central Bank. August gold fell $12.40 to $1,609.40, September silver closed at $27.67, down 60.8 cents
Despite an unexpectedly large decline in U.S. oil inventories, oil futures dropped slightly Thursday, undermined by a stronger U.S. dollar and shrinking hopes for aggressive U.S. stimulus measures.
August crude fell 44 cents to $87.22 a barrel, Front-month reformulated gasoline closed at $2.76 a gallon, up 4.2 cents, and front-month heating oil settled at a $2.77 a gallon, up 1 cent.
Natural gas futures settled at a fresh six-month high Thursday ahead of government data that are expected to show a much smaller increase in U.S. gas stockpiles than usual for this time of year. August Natural gas rose 4.6 cents to $2.94.
On Wall Street, stocks edged down on Thursday as economic stimulus measures by major central banks failed to excite investors before a U.S. jobs report expected to show tepid growth. The Dow lost 47 to close at 12,896, the Nasdaq closed at 2,976,up a fraction, and the S&P 500 fell 6 to 1,367