Lean hog futures closed mostly lower as well, pressured by declines in cattle futures and uncertainty about near-term domestic demand after wholesale pork prices stumbled Wednesday. April hogs closed off 50 at 86.90, June fell 42 to close at 94.12.
U.S. live cattle futures fell Thursday as traders grew more concerned about demand and as expectations for higher cash prices this week waned. April live cattle closed down 145 at $125, April feeders fell 122 to close at $156.
US wheat futures rose sharply on strength in soybeans and concerns about the crop. May wheat in Chicago ended up 21 at $6.64 while May wheat in KC climbed 23 1/2 to $7.04.
US corn futures ended higher as the market tries to keep pace with surging soybeans. May corn ended up 10 1/4 at $6.69.
US soybean futures ended higher, climbing to new 6-month highs as strong export demand extends the market's upward trend, Soy product futures jumped in step with advances in soybeans. May soybeans ended up 18 3/4 at $13.69, May soy meal ended up $4.20 at $371.40, and May soy oil ended up 68 to 55.48.
Cotton futures eked out gains after better-than-expected USDA export numbers Thursday morning, and a weather report from NOAA that said drought in US cotton-growing regions will persist through the end of June. May cotton gained 20 to 87.34, and July cotton gained 25 to close at $88.01.
Gold futures gained for the first time this week on Thursday, as declines in the U.S. dollar and the metal's slide the previous day to eight-week lows drew some opportunistic buyers. April gold rose $16.60 to $1,659.50, and May silver closed at $32.72, up 54.5 cents
Oil futures were roiled Thursday by a report that the U.S. had reached an agreement to release oil from its emergency reserves — only to be calmed less than an hour later by a White House denial. April crude oil fell 32 cents to $105.11 a barrel. April gasoline futures fell 5.85 cents to $3.28 a gallon, and April distillates dropped 3.93 cents to $3.22 a gallon.
Natural gas futures ended slightly lower Thursday, shrugging off a larger-than-expected decline in inventory and focusing on the likelihood of weak demand ahead. April Natural gas fell a fraction to $2.27.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose above 1,400 for the first time in nearly four years on Thursday as data showed the U.S. economy continues to improve. The index is about 10% away from its record close in October 2007. The Dow gained 58 to close at 13,252, the Nasdaq closed at 3,056, up 15, and the S&P 500 gained 8 1/3 to close at 1,402.