U.S. lean-hog futures ended mostly higher, with nearby contracts extending recent gains amid tightening supplies and solid near-term demand. CME lean hogs for October ended up 0.275 cent, or 0.3%, to 89.4 cents a pound, while December lean-hogs closed up 0.075 cent to 85.925. Other contracts were lower. October hogs had climbed as high as 90.525 cents, a fresh contract high, before retreating amid sentiment the market was overpriced.
U.S. live-cattle futures continued their recent slide, falling to one-month lows amid technical selling and a lack of support from the cash market. CME live-cattle for October ended down 0.775 cent, or 0.6%, to $1.25225 a pound. The market has fallen four days in a row, declining to levels last seen on Aug. 7, after Tyson Foods (TSN) announced it would no longer accept cattle fed with Zilmax, a feed additive that boosts cattle weights. The recent losses have attracted technical selling as the market made new lows. CME feeder-cattle futures also ended lower Thursday. CME feeder-cattle for September ended down 0.275 cent, or 0.2%, to $1.5675 a pound.
Corn prices continued to fall. The most-active December contract slid 8 1/2 cents, or 1.8%, to $4.61 a bushel, a three-week low for that issue.
Wheat futures followed the declines in corn, as the two grains are direct substitutes in animal feed. CBOT December wheat shed 6 cents, or 0.9%, to $6.40 1/4 a bushel, an all-time closing low for that contract. KCBT December wheat fell 8 3/4 cents, or 1.25%, to $6.89 1/4 a bushel. MGEX December wheat was off 11 1/4 cents, or 1.6%, at $7.10 3/4 a bushel.
U.S. soybean futures reversed earlier losses to close the session higher on Thursday, buoyed by technical trading and concerns that rainfall in the forecast for the Corn Belt over the next week could reach crops too late in the growing season to replenish dry fields. Chicago Board of Trade September soybeans added 25 1/4 cents, or 1.8%, to $14.23 a bushel. Most-active November soybeans picked up 15 cents, or 1.1%, to $13.67 1/2 a bushel.
Cotton futures declined, settling at the lowest point since May 31. December-delivery cotton fell 0.5% to 82.30 cents a pound.
Natural gas futures prices settled 2.9% lower Thursday after federal data showed gas inventories climbed by more than expected last week.
Traders said the bigger-than-expected gain in the stockpile reflected continued strong production levels and the likelihood that recent high prices have steered some power generators back to burning coal instead of gas.
October-delivery natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled 10.8 cents, or 2.9%, lower at $3.575 per million British thermal units. The drop more than erased the 10.2 cent gain so far this week that had put prices at a six-week high.
Oil futures pushed higher Thursday, as traders shifted their attention away from the turmoil in Syria to developments in the U.S., where the government reported an unexpected slump in oil stockpiles. Light, sweet crude for October delivery settled $1.14, or 1.1%, higher at $108.37 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange gained 35 cents, or 0.3%, to $115.26 a barrel. Front-month October reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled 2.83 cents, or 1%, lower at $2.8360 a gallon. October heating oil settled 2.6 cents higher at $3.1397 a gallon.
Gold sank almost 2 percent to two-week lows on Thursday as upbeat U.S. data heightened expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve may soon rein in its massive stimulus program that has bolstered bullion prices. Gold for December delivery, the most actively traded contract, fell $17, or 1.2%, to settle at $1,373.00 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Other precious metals retreated in sympathy with gold's losses. Silver was down 0.7% to $23.25.
Dow Jones industrials finished at 14937, up 6. The Nasdaq composite closed at 3658, up 9, and the Standard and Poors 500 finished up 3 at 1655.