Dow Tops 22,000 for First Time

Hog futures leapt Wednesday as traders tried to close a sharp discount to cash and pork prices.

Most-active October lean hog futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange rose 2.8% to 66.225 cents a pound, while the front-month August contract climbed 2.7% to 81.95 cents a pound.

Futures were under pressure through much of July, but strong demand for pork bellies, used to make bacon, helped buttress prices in the broader market. A pound of wholesale pork rose 1.65 cents to 99.63 cents a pound as of midday Wednesday, while the CME’s lean hog index was at 88.1 cents a pound on Tuesday.

That leaves considerable ground to cover if the index is to align with front-month futures before they expire in mid-August.

Cattle futures, meanwhile, bounced late in Wednesday’s trading session. After lackluster demand for slaughter-ready cattle at the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange auction in the morning, packers followed up by buying cattle at $1.16 a pound live in Kansas, according to the USDA. Some analysts reported higher bids elsewhere.

CME August live cattle futures rose 1.5% to $1.14525 a pound, while feeder cattle futures were also higher.

Corn and soybean futures rose Wednesday, changing course after losses earlier this week.

Improving weather forecasts had put pressure on prices this week. But ongoing concerns that some of the problems that hampered steady crop growth in July could continue this month encouraged bargain hunting in Wednesday’s session.

Corn futures for September delivery rose 0.7% to $3.65 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, closing below highs for the day, while August-dated soybean contracts climbed 0.7% to $9.66 1/2 a bushel.

Rainfall this week in North Dakota is unlikely to help the spring wheat and corn crops there much, though, according to AgResource. The drought conditions that have decimated chunks of spring wheat there are likely to return.

September spring wheat futures at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange rose 0.6% to $7.22 1/4 a bushel, while CBOT September soft red winter wheat was largely steady, closing 0.1% lower at $4.60 3/4 a bushel.

December cotton rose 1.5% to settle at 70.34 cents a pound.

Crude oil futures prices ended higher on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The near-month contract for the benchmark grade added 43 cents to close at $49.59 a barrel.

Natural gas prices edged lower Wednesday as traders consolidated gains ahead of data on natural gas storage levels.

Still, prices have stabilized after hitting a five-month low Monday. Futures for September delivery settled down 0.8 cent, or 0.28%, at $2.811 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Analysts and traders have pointed to weather forecasts as the culprit in natural gas’s recent selloff–temperatures across the country are expected to remain relatively mild in the coming weeks, eroding hopes that a heat wave could boost summer cooling demand.

The August gold contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed at $1,271.80 an ounce, down 80 cents.

The current silver contract on the “NYMEX” closed at $16.70 an ounce, down three cents.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 22,000 points for the first time, driven by a big gain in Apple on an otherwise mixed day for the market.

The Dow Jones industrials rose 52 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,016. The move was almost entirely due to the jump in Apple’s stock.

The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 1 point, less than 0.1 percent, to 2,477. The Nasdaq edged down less than a point to 6,362. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.