U.S. cattle futures ended the session higher, in anticipation that a federal supply report Friday will show a larger projected harvest of U.S. corn and soybean crops, which make up the bulk of livestock feed.
Feeder-cattle futures led gains, with the January contract picking up 67 to $169, February live cattle advanced 2 to $136.
Hog futures declined, pressured by the sharp premium built into the front-month contract over the recent cash hog price index, as that contract nears expiration. In the cash markets, the average prices paid by pork processors remain around five cents a pound lower than the front-month futures contract. February hogs slid 32 to 85.25, April hogs fell 37 to 90.72
Corn futures fell to the lowest in more than three years and wheat dropped to a 24-month low on slack demand for grain from the U.S. amid rising production. Wheat futures fell as exporters sold 110,800 metric tons of the grain through last Thursday, also the lowest for the current marketing year, according to the government.
March Corn fell 5 to $4.12, March Chicago Wheat futures fell 4 1/2 to $5.84, March KC wheat gained 2 to $6.39, January Soybean dropped 4 1/2 to $12.96.
Near-month cotton futures edged higher Thursday morning despite a weak export sales report. March cotton gained 41 to 83.55, and the May contract fell 41 to 82.81. USDA reported Thursday that net-Upland variety sales of the fiber totaled 68,100 bales during the week ended Jan. 2, down 21% from the previous week.
Gold futures rose for the first time in four sessions on Thursday, steadying as investors awaited Friday's reading on U.S. unemployment. February Gold rose $3.90 to $1,229.40, March silver closed at $19.68, up 14.4 cents.
U.S. oil futures tumbled to an eight-month low Thursday as traders worried about a glut of domestic supplies and record crude production, while petroleum product demand slumped last week. February crude fell 67 cents at $91.66 a barrel, February gasoline fell 1.37 cents to $2.64 a gallon, and February distillates fell 2.80 cents to $2.92 a gallon.
Natural-gas-futures prices tumbled Thursday to a one-month low amid forecasts that widespread higher temperatures will melt record-high demand for gas-fired heating. February Natural gas fell or 21.1 cents to $4.00.
On Wall Street, stocks were little changed in choppy trade on Thursday, as a soft performance by retailers offset earlier enthusiasm about an upbeat report on the labor market. The Dow fell 17 to 16,444, the Nasdaq closed at 4,156, down 9 and the S&P 500 gained a fraction to 1,838.