U.S. lean-hog futures ended higher Wednesday, rallying to fresh highs on climbing pork prices and strong near-term demand. CME lean hogs for October climbed 0.8% to 82.57 cents a pound, the highest closing price since July 11. December lean hogs ended up 1.3 cents to 78.1 cents a pound, a 10-week high.
Live cattle closed mixed despite early morning gains, as wholesale beef prices slipped from Tuesday. The October live-cattle contract inched up 0.1% to $1.2470 per pound. The December contract fell slightly from Tuesday to $1.2660 per pound. After climbing slightly over the last week, USDA's choice grade boxed beef quote at midday fell 4 cents per hundredweight to $191.16 per hundredweight, while select was off 36 cents at $176.93 on sales of 223 loads.
Wheat futures rose on expectations for the USDA to cut its forecasts for world wheat supplies, including due to dry weather reducing the size of Australia's crop. Some traders are also concerned about too much rain slowing planting of soft red winter wheat in the eastern Corn Belt. CBOT December wheat settled up 5 1/2 cents or 0.6% at $8.69 3/4 a bushel. KCBT December wheat rose 8 3/4 cents or 1.0% to $8.97 1/2 a bushel. MGEX December wheat rose 5 3/4 cents or 0.6% to $9.33 3/4 a bushel.
U.S. soybean futures fell Wednesday as traders braced for a government crop report Thursday that is expected to forecast a bigger U.S. soy harvest. Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures settled down 26 3/4 cents or 1.7% at $15.23 1/4 a bushel.
ICE cotton futures ended slightly higher in quiet trade ahead of the USDA's monthly supply-and-demand report, due out at 8:30 am EDT Thursday. John Flanagan, president of brokerage Flanagan Trading Corp says that prices will likely drift lower throughout the autumn with global production weighing on the market against a backdrop of weak worldwide demand. "I'm surprised we haven't (hit 65c/lb) already," he says. Dec-delivery cotton gains 0.4% to settle at 72.10c/lb.
At the livestock auction held Tuesday in Mount Airy a total of 595 cattle were sold. Slaughter cows trended mostly 1.00 to 6.50 higher; bulls were mixed, 1.50 lower to 50 cents higher. M&L 1-2 feeder steers, 400-600 lbs., trended mixed; heifers were 1.00 to 5.25 higher. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $73-$84, with high dressing up to $84. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold from $92-$96. M&L 1-2 feeder steers, 500-600 lbs. ranged $135-$162 and 500-600 lbs. were $124-$139.50. 400-500 lbs. M&L 1-2 feeder heifers ranged $118-$133 and 500-600 lbs. were $115-$125.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended five to six cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.27-$8.11 at feed mills and $7.21-$7.62 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans 22 to 27 cents lower and were $15.53 at processors, and $14.73-$14.96 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat was not quoted. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants was $512.60 per ton for 48% protein.
U.S. crude-oil futures fell Wednesday after a surge in the previous session, as traders looked to reports on the global oil market that suggest plentiful supplies and slumping demand growth. Light, sweet crude oil for November delivery fell $1.14, or 1.2%, to settle at $91.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after bouncing between gains and losses throughout the session. Brent crude oil on the ICE futures exchange fell 17 cents to settle at $114.33 a barrel. Front-month November reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled 0.06 cent higher at $2.9593 a gallon. November heating oil settled 0.99 cent, or 0.3%, higher at $3.2131 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures squeezed out a gain Wednesday, as traders looked ahead to a government report expected to show inventories rose less than usual last week, implying an uptick in demand. Natural gas for November delivery settled 0.8 cent, or 0.2%, higher at $3.475 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold rose slightly Wednesday, but held near unchanged, as traders weighed developments in Europe's banking crisis against the prospect of more economic stimulus. The precious metal hit a 2012 high last week, nearing $1,800 a troy ounce, in the wake of recent announcements of new or expanded easy money policies from central banks in China, the U.S., and Japan. Such policies can draw investors worried about inflation down the line to precious metals. The most actively traded gold contract, for December delivery, rose 10 cents to settle at $1,765.10 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the Nymex.
The Dow lost 128 to close at 13344. Nasdaq finished down 13 at 3051. The S&P finished at 1432, down 8.