Livestock Futures Rise on Export Sales

Livestock futures rose on Thursday as stronger meat exports buoyed traders.

Signs that international demand for U.S. meat is increasing offset some concerns about rising domestic supply, which have pressured prices lower in recent weeks.

Exports of beef rose 9% in February from the previous year, while pork was up 15% for the same time frame, according to government data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Increased exports helped carry the market Wednesday and Thursday. April live cattle futures rose 52 to $118, the June contract gained 70 to $110, April feeder cattle gained 142 to $131.  April lean hog futures gained 30 to 63.92, May closed at 69.55, up 120.

Grain and soybean futures tumbled on Thursday, undoing overnight gains.

Prices have been under pressure recently on the prospect that this year’s harvests in North and South America will add to already formidable supplies of grains and oilseeds.

Analysts were skeptical that increased demand could be enough offset rising production.

May Chicago wheat fell 6 ½  to $4.23, May KC wheat dropped 5 to $4.20, May corn dropped 4 to $3.60 and Soybeans were down 2 ¾  to $9.41

Cotton futures slipped Thursday in continued range-bound trade, on a mediocre export sales report.  May cotton fell 36 to 74.51, and the July contract fell 26 to 76.40.

Oil futures rose to a one-month high after U.S. data gave hope that the country’s building crude stocks would soon reverse direction and begin falling.

May crude settled up 55 cents at $51.70 a barrel, Gasoline futures rose 1.43 cent to $1.72 a gallon, reaching an 18-month high, and Diesel futures rose a fraction to $1.61 a gallon.

Natural gas futures rose to a two-month high after government data showed a smaller-than-expected storage addition for last week. May Natural gas gained up 6.5 cents to $3.33.

Wall Street’s major indexes closed slightly higher on Thursday but finished well off session highs as investors were nervous about upcoming talks between China’s President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump.  The Dow gained 14 to 20,662, the Nasdaq closed at 5,878, up 14, and the S&P 500 gained 4 to 2,357.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.