U.S. lean-hog futures finished mostly higher, finding technical support amid sentiment that near-term pork demand by U.S. retailers will rise.
April lean hogs added 0.52 cent, or 0.7%, to 80.6 cents a pound at the CME, a two-week high for the spot contract's close. The June contract picked up 0.4 cent, or 0.4%, to 91.07
U.S. cattle futures extended their midweek rally Thursday, closing sharply higher in many contracts for the second consecutive day.
April live-cattle jumped 1.55 cents, or 1.2%, to $1.289 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the highest closing price for the spot contract since March 5. June futures advanced 1.4 cents, or 1.1%, to $1.2437
At the 2 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Norwood and North Wilkesboro a total of 770 cattle and 3 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended mostly steady to $0.50 lower, feeder steers trended mixed, and heifers trended mostly $1.00 to $5.00 higher when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $70.00 to $88.00. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $93.00 to $104.50 with high dressing up to $106.50.
U.S. corn futures settled sharply lower Thursday, after the government reported higher-than-expected stockpiles of the grain and forecast farmers will plant the largest crop in more than 75 years. USDA said domestic corn stockpiles reached 5.4 billion bushels as of March 1, well above analysts' expectations, in a sign that less than expected was used for animal feed, while last year's harvest may have been larger than originally estimated by the agency.
Wheat and soybean futures also fell on higher-than-expected supplies in the USDA report. Wheat stocks totaled 1.23 billion bushels at the start of March, 5% above the analysts' consensus of 1.17 billion bushels.
USDA said soybean stockpiles on March 1 totaled 999 million bushels, 5.5% above the average analyst expectation of 947 million bushels.
May corn fell 40, or limit down to $6.95, May wheat in Chicago fell 49 to $6.87, May wheat in KC fell 47 ¼ to $7.26, and May soybeans dropped 49 to $14.04.
Greens: Demand is moderate. Wide range in prices. Various containers, bunched/loose collard, mustard, and turnip tops 7.00-8.00 some 6.50. Kale type was 10.00-16.00.
Sweet potatoes: Demand is moderate. Market is about steady. 40 lb cartons Orange Types U.S. No. 1 13.00-15.00, some 12.00, few higher and lower. U.S. No. 1 Petite 10.00-12.00 few higher and lower. U.S. No. 2 7.00-9.00, mostly 8.00, few lower, occasionally higher. No Grade Marks jumbo 6.00-8.00, mostly 6.00-7.00, few lower, occasionally higher.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 40 cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.20-$7.80 at feed mills and $6.15-7.80 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 49 cents lower and were $14.39 at processors, and $13.65-$14.04 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat was 49 cents lower and was $5.91-$6.68 at the elevators. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $449.60 per ton for 48% protein.
Cotton futures hit a one-week intraday high Thursday after USDA said U.S. farmers would likely plant 19% fewer acres with the fiber this spring. May cotton gained 27 to 88.80, and December new crop fell 50 to 86.75.
Gold futures settled at less than $1,600 for a second time in three trading days Thursday as brighter economic data and stronger equities bolstered investor risk appetite. June gold fell $11.40 to $1,594.80, May silver closed at $28.32 down 28.9 cents.
Oil futures finished higher Thursday, setting a six-week high as the Standard & Poor's 500 was poised to finish at a record. May crude gained 65 cents to $97.23 a barrel, April gasoline fell 1.01 cent to $3.1054 a gallon, and April distillates fell a fraction to $2.91 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures swung to a gain following a steep decline in gas stockpiles last week, amid persistent demand for gas-fueled heating. May Natural-gas futures to $4.07.
On Wall Street, stocks edged higher on Thursday as the S&P rose just above its record closing high, a level that as acted as a significant resistance point in recent weeks. The Dow gained 52 to 14,578, the Nasdaq closed at 3,267, up 11 and the S&P 500 gained 6 to 1,569.