U.S. hog futures settled mostly higher, after Chinese meat producer Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. offered to buy Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) in an announcement made earlier Wednesday. Analysts said they expect the Smithfield takeover could improve exports to China later in the year, after the deal would be completed. October hogs picked up 60 to 82.90, July hog futures slipped 35 to 93.00.
U.S. live-cattle futures settled higher, after a midday jump in wholesale beef prices. June live cattle gained 62 to $121, July cattle added 97 to $120
U.S. corn futures finished mixed Wednesday, with "new crop" futures settling at a nine-week high on planting worries. Soybean futures ended mixed, with contracts for near-term delivery pressured by traders taking profits on Tuesday's explosive gains. U.S. wheat futures finished higher Wednesday, reversing Tuesday's losses. The market was supported by concerns about the health of wheat crops in the southern Plains as well as concerns about planting delays for spring wheat crops in the northern plains.
July corn finished down 1 1/2 at $6.65, July soybeans finished down 7 1/2 at $15.01, July wheat in Chicago ended up 9 at $7.02, and Kansas City Board of Trade July wheat rose 4 1/4 to $7.47.
Cotton futures ended at the lowest point in more than four months as demand has slowed from China, the world's biggest importer and consumer of the fiber. July cotton fell 94 to 80.48, and December new crop lost 56 to 83.38.
Gold prices settled higher Wednesday as a weaker dollar and losses in equity markets burnished the metal's allure as a haven asset. August gold rose $12.10 to $1,391.80, July silver gained 25 cents to $22.45.
Crude-oil futures fell to a four-week low Wednesday amid a slide in U.S. equities and concerns about slowing oil-demand growth. July crude oil fell $1.88 to $93.13 a barrel, June gasoline fell 4.97 cents to $2.80 a gallon, and June distillates dropped 3.71 cents to $2.86 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures fell Wednesday for the third-straight session as traders focus on forecasts for mild June weather across the U.S. that could crimp fuel demand. June Natural gas lost 2.6 cents to $4.14.
On Wall Street, stocks fell as signs of strength in the US economy fanned fears the Federal Reserve might soon begin tapering its massive stimulus program, and battered safe US debt rose on a revived bid after yields hit 13-month highs. The Dow fell 106 to 15,302, the Nasdaq closed at 3,467, down 21 and the S&P 500 dropped 11 to 1,648.