U.S. lean-hog futures were pressured by profit-taking Wednesday, finishing mixed. April lean hogs added 57 to 80.07 the June contract slid 4 to 90.67.
U.S. cattle futures rallied Wednesday, on expectations for the week's cash trade, following limited sales Tuesday afternoon that were at the high end of week-ago beef cattle prices. April live-cattle jumped 14 to $127, June futures added 182 cents to $122.
At the livestock auction held Tuesday in Mount Airy a total of 377 cattle and 33 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended 1.00 to 1.50 lower; bulls were 1.50 to 4.00 lower. M&L 1-2 feeder steers, 400-600 lbs., trended 3.00 to 8.00 lower; heifers were mostly steady. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $76-$87. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold from $88-$101.50.
U.S. grain and soybean futures finished higher Wednesday, rallying ahead of Thursday's release of U.S. government crop reports. The USDA at noon EDT Thursday will release key crop reports, including estimates of U.S. corn, wheat and soybean plantings, and the size of domestic grain inventories as of March 1.
Grain traders will closely watch the figures, which could cause significant price swings in futures markets if they come in above or below expected levels. U.S. government forecasters are expected to report domestic corn supplies have hit a 15-year low, and soybean supplies have dropped to their lowest levels since 2004. May soybeans finished up 6 at $14.53, May corn ended up 5 at $7.35.
Meanwhile, U.S. wheat futures climbed in unison with corn and soybeans, drawing independent support from concerns about winter-wheat crop conditions in the Great Plains and Delta. May wheat in Chicago ended up 5 1/4 at $7.36, and Kansas City Board of Trade May wheat rose 5 1/2 to $7.74
U.S. 2 yellow shelled corn trended steady to five cents higher when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.60-$8.20 at feed mills and $7.55-$8.20 at elevators. U.S. 1 yellow soybeans trended mostly six cents higher and were $14.88 at processors, and $14.00-$14.53 at elevators. U.S. 2 soft red winter wheat trended four to five cents higher and ranged $6.36-$7.17 at the elevators. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants was $468.10 per ton for 48% protein.
North Carolina’s egg prices trended lower on extra-large and medium, steady on small and large. Supplies are moderate. Retail demand is good. The North Carolina weighted average price for small lot sales of delivered, cartoned, grade “A” eggs was 160.50 for Extra Large, 158.34 for Large, 120.64 for Medium, and 83.00 for Small eggs.
Cotton futures ended higher for a second day on Wednesday ahead of a government crop forecast that is expected to show U.S. farmers will plant less of the fiber this spring. May cotton gained 49 to 88.53, and December new crop gained 2 to 87.25.
Gold futures rose Wednesday as concerns about Europe's financial system shifted to Italy from Cyprus amid further signs of political gridlock there. June gold rose $9.90 to $1,607.20, and May silver closed at $28.61, down 6.7 cents
Oil futures eked out a gain Wednesday, setting another five-week high, as traders shrugged off a bigger-than-expected rise in crude-oil inventories.
May crude gained 24 cents to $96.58 a barrel, April gasoline gained a fraction to $3.11 a gallon, and April distillates gained 3.41 cents to $3.11 a gallon.
Natural-gas prices jumped to a 19-month high above $4 Wednesday, amid forecasts for cold temperatures to linger in the eastern U.S. into early April. May nat gas gained 7.7 cents to $4.06.
On Wall Street, stocks rebounded from early declines to close little changed on Wednesday, but investors were still worried about the chance of a run on Cyprus banks and its possible implications for other euro-zone lenders. The Dow fell 33 to 14,526, the Nasdaq closed at 3,256, up 4 and the S&P 500 fell a fraction to 1,562.