U.S. lean-hog futures made minor gains after initial concerns about pork demand which were sparked by declines in wholesale pork prices. February lean hogs added 5 to 86.95, April hogs, the most-actively traded contract, improved 27 to 86.52.
After a weak start to the session, live-cattle futures pared back some losses to finish mixed Thursday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Gains on shrinking supplies of beef were held back by continued weakness in outside markets and caution about consumer demand. February Live cattle added 3 to $127, April cattle, the most actively traded contract, picked up 7 to $131
At the 3 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Smithfield, Norwood and North Wilkesboro a total of 1024 cattle and 78 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended mixed, feeder steers trended steady to $17.00 higher, and heifers trended $13.00 to $19.00 higher when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $70.00 to $86.00. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $90.50 to $96.00 with high dressing up to $103.00.
At the state graded feeder pig sale in Mt. Olive a total of 89 pigs were sold. U.S. No. 1 and 2 pigs, 40-50 lbs averaged $57.00, 50-60 lbs averaged $71.00, 60-70 lbs returned $51.00. U.S. No. 1-3 pigs, 30-40 lbs returned $58.00.
U.S. corn futures fell for the fifth consecutive day Thursday, declining ahead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly world supply-and-demand report. Wheat futures closed at a 3 1/2 week low, declining in unison with corn, with lagging export demand aiding the declines. U.S. soybean futures settled lower, falling as traders shed risk ahead of Friday's USDA reports. Yet, near-term contracts were underpinned for most of the day by strong demand and tight U.S. supplies.
March corn ended down 11 3/4 to $7.10, March wheat in Chicago ended down 5 1/2 at $7.56, Kansas City Board of Trade March wheat dropped 8 3/4 to $8.01, March soybeans finished down 3/4 at $14.86
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 12 cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.30-$7.86 at feed mills and $7.26-7.90 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 1 cent lower and were $14.96 at processors, and $14.26-$14.67 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $483.20 per ton for 48% protein.
Greens: Demand moderate. Market about steady. Various containers bunched/loose Collard, Kale, Mustard, and Turnip Tops 6.50-7.00 occasionally higher.
Sweet potatoes: Demand moderate. Market about steady. 40 lb cartons Orange Types U.S. No. 1 13.00-15.00 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 8.00-9.00, few lower, occasionally higher. No Grade Marks jumbo 6.00-8.00, mostly 6.00 to 7.00, few lower, occasionally higher.
Cotton futures eased Thursday morning as the market awaited the U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly supply-and-demand forecast, due today at noon ET. March cotton fell 82 to 80.90, and the May contract lost 27 to close at 82.28.
Gold fell Thursday, and silver slumped to a one-week low, on pressure from a sharply higher U.S. dollar. March gold fell $7.30 to $1,670.80, and March silver fell 46 cents to $31.41.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures dropped to a two-week low on reduced refinery demand, while North Sea Brent crude oil prices climbed to a nine-month high on rising tensions over Iran's nuclear program. March crude fell 79 cents to $95.83 a barrel, March distillates gained 1.37 cents to $3.19 a gallon, the highest price since Oct. 15, and March gasoline lost 3.98 cents to $2.99 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures tumbled Thursday as a government report showed a much smaller drop in U.S. gas stockpiles than analysts and investors were expecting. March Natural gas fell 13.3 cents to $3.28.
On Wall Street, stocks fell on Thursday, taking a step back from their recent advance, prompted by comments by the European Central Bank president on the euro and Europe's outlook. The Dow fell 42 to 13,944, the Nasdaq closed at 3,165, down 3 and the S&P 500 dropped 2 to 1,509.