Commodities Higher, Wall Street Lower

U.S. lean-hog futures ended modestly higher Friday, supported by expectations for tightening supplies. February lean hogs rose 0.45 cent, or 0.5%, to 86.9 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. April hogs gained 0.45 cent, or 0.5%, to 91.62 cents a pound. Live-cattle futures finished just over unchanged Friday, supported by expectations of tightened supplies of beef, offset by sluggish beef demand anticipated for early next year. December live-cattle futures added 0.32 cents, or 0.25%, to $1.2927 a pound at the CME. Most-active February futures gained 0.07 cents, or 0.05%, to $1.3357 a pound.

U.S. wheat futures traded higher Friday, boosted by improving export demand and new buying interest after a sharp recent price decline.
In electronic trading, Chicago Board of Trade futures for March delivery were up 6 1/4 cents or 0.8% at $7.96 3/4 a bushel. Kansas City Board of Trade March wheat was up 4 1/2 cents or 0.5% at $8.48 1/4 a bushel. MGEX March wheat rose 3 1/4 cents or 0.4% at $8.87 a bushel.

U.S. grain and soybean futures ended higher, recouping some losses amid short covering and bargain hunting after getting pummeled for most of the week. Corn for March delivery at the Chicago Board of Trade ended up 5 1/2 cents to $7.02 a bushel, while January soybean futures ended up 22 cents at $14.30 3/4.

Cotton futures edged lower, pressured by the stronger dollar and end-of-year liquidation. "With the end of the week, month and year approaching, many traders are more likely to take profits and reduce exposure," says Knight Futures' Sharon Johnson. She adds that mill buying is supporting the market around 75c, while producer selling is capping the upside around 76c, keeping prices in a tight range. ICE cotton for March delivery is 0.3% lower at 75.60c/lb. in very low volume.

At the livestock auction held Thursday at Smithfield a total of 409 cattle and no goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended mixed, feeder steers trended mixed and heifers trended $8.00 to $10.00 lower when compared to last week’s sale. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $65.50 to $70.00. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $75.00 to $88.50 with high dressing up to $93.00. M&L 1-2 feeder steers, 400-500 lbs. brought $129.00 to $149.00, 500-600 lbs. brought $130.00 to $142.00. 400-500 lb. M&L 1-2 feeder heifers ranged $110.00 – $136.00 and 500-600 lbs. were $100.00 – $131.00.

Cabbage: Demand moderate. Market about steady. 50 lb cartons Round Green Type med 7.00-7.50 occasionally 8.00.

No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 5 to 6 cents higher when compared to last report. Prices ranged $6.92-$7.72 at feed mills and $6.97-7.32 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 22 to 25 cents higher and were $14.09 at processors, and $13.50-$13.96 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $483.80 per ton for 48% protein.

U.S. crude-oil futures retreated Friday in a broad selloff across asset classes on worries that talks aimed at avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff had reached an impasse. Light, sweet crude-oil futures for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled 1.6%, or $1.47, lower at $88.66 a barrel. The drop was the largest single-day decline in two weeks. January heating-oil futures prices settled 3.51 cents lower at $3.0224 a gallon in the biggest loss in two weeks. Reformulated gasoline blendstock futures for January settled 1.96 cents lower, at $2.7347 a gallon, posting the biggest decline in a week.

Natural gas futures prices fell Friday in light trading, dropping along with broader energy markets amid concerns about the economy. Natural gas for January delivery fell 1.1 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $3.451 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The decline followed a 14.2-cent increase Thursday, and analysts and traders said the pull of broader markets amid disarray in Washington's fiscal talks–coupled with investors' moves to lock in profits from bullish bets–sent prices lower.

Gold edged higher on Friday as some traders who had bet on lower prices cashed out, but it wasn't enough to erase the week's 2.1% decline as money managers cut back on their precious metals holdings ahead of the end of the year. The most actively traded contract, for February delivery, on Friday rose $14.20, or 0.9%, to settle at $1,660.10 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Thursday's debacle in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner failed to secure passage of his own bill that was meant to pressure President Obama and Senate Democrats, only added to worry that the protracted budget talks will stretch into 2013. Still, the market remains resilient. Friday's decline on Wall Street, triggered by Boehner's fiasco, was not enough to prevent the S&P 500 from posting its best week in four. The Dow lost 120 points on Friday, closing the week at 13190. The Nasdaq fell 29 points to 3021, and the S&P lost 13 to close at 1430.


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