Hog futures rose Thursday ahead of a report that showed the domestic herd at a record high for this time of year. USDA’s quarterly data released after the markets closed showed the country’s total hog and pig herd at 71 million head, up 4% from this time last year. The number of hogs being sold also rose 4%. Live cattle futures, meanwhile, fell as the prospects for price gains diminished.
April lean hog futures rose 32 to 65.62, the first day of gains in a week, the May contract jumped 102 to 70.50. April live cattle futures fell 135 to $120, the June contract dropped 97 to $110, and April feeders fell 185 to $132.
Grain and soybean futures fell Thursday ahead of government stocks and acreage figures slated to be released at the end of the week.
Traders are focused on whether the data, released by USDA at noon today, will show farmers switching their planting intentions this year from corn and wheat to soybeans while stockpiles of all three pile up. Corn and wheat both fell on Thursday while keeping within this week’s range, appearing to find a floor of sorts ahead of the report.
May soybeans fell 6 to $9.63, May Chicago wheat closed down 4 ½ to $4.21, May KC wheat fell 6 ¼ to $4.17, and May corn fell 1 at $3.57.
Near month cotton futures finished with a gain on Thursday, out months were lower. May cotton gained 9 to 76.23, and the July contract fell 3 to 77.60.
Oil futures picked up steam Thursday and settled above $50 a barrel for the first time in three weeks as traders and investors became more optimistic that OPEC will continue cutting production and U.S. crude stocks will soon fall from record highs. May crude rose 84 cents to $50.35 a barrel, Gasoline futures rose a fraction to $1.68 a gallon, and Diesel futures rose 1.57 cents, to $1.55 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures fell Thursday as investors began to contemplate how much natural gas will be added to storage as spring begins. May nat gas fell 4 cents to $3.19.
Stocks on Wall Street gained on Thursday, led by financial shares, after data showed U.S. economic growth was stronger than previously reported last quarter, helped by robust consumer spending, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq set a record closing high. The Dow gained 69 to 20,728, the Nasdaq closed at 5,914, up 16 and the S&P 500 gained 7 to 2,368.