U.S. lean-hog futures rose slightly Thursday, supported by views that the market overreacted to supply fears in its midweek selloff. February lean-hogs gained 4 to 84.60, after tumbling to a four-week low Wednesday. April hogs fell 22 to 87.10.
U.S. live-cattle futures finished lower, after buying support in the front-month contract stalled with little news about beef demand to justify the gains. February live-cattle finished unchanged at $131, Live cattle for April live cattle shed 27 to $135.
At the 2 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Norwood and North Wilkesboro a total of 1288 cattle and 7 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended steady to $7.00 higher, feeder steers trended mixed, and heifers trended $1.00 to $2.00 lower when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $70.00 to $85.00. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $87.00 to $98.00 with high dressing up to $104.00.
U.S. corn futures closed higher Thursday, their fourth straight day of gains, as traders continued to reduce risk ahead of today's government crop reports. Uncertainty about what the USDA reports will show led to trade positioning across wheat and soybean markets as well. Traders found it tough to derive direction before the USDA reports, producing a tepid reaction to fresh export sales announcements in wheat and soybeans.
March corn rose 4 1/2 to $6.98, March wheat in Chicago ended down 1, at $7.44, Kansas City Board of Trade March wheat dropped 4 3/4 to $7.96, January soybeans finished down 2 1/4 at $14.17.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 4 to 5 cents higher when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.48-$7.69 at feed mills and $7.23-7.58 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 6 to 40 cents lower and were $13.79 at processors, and $13.00-$13.63 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $455.60 per ton for 48% protein.
Greens: Demand fairly good. 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 7.00 occasionally higher. Cotton futures perked up ahead of USDA's Jan supply/demand report, due today at 12:00 noon. A lowering of Chinese consumption could emerge as a bearish note in the report, due to expectations of continued hand-to-mouth buying by Chinese mills. March cotton gained 41 to 75.20, and the May contract gained 37 at 76.04
February gold gained $15.90 to $1,671.70, and February silver gained 67 cents to $30.91.
Crude-oil futures prices climbed to a 16-week high Thursday on news that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, cut production in December.
Analysts said the reduction likely came in response to weak near-term demand. But, if sustained in coming months, the reduction could offset somewhat the impact of rising U.S. oil output that is expected to help trim global prices this year. February crude gained 72 cents to $93.82 a barrel, February distillates fell 1.56 cents to $3.05 a gallon, while February gasoline gained 1.44 cents to $2.79 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures rose Thursday after weekly data showed a big slump in U.S. gas inventories that signaled rising demand. Natural gas for February delivery was recently 8 cents higher to settle at $3.19.
On Wall Street, stocks rose on Thursday and the S&P 500 ended at a fresh five-year high as stronger than expected exports from China spurred optimism about global growth prospects. The Dow gained 80 to close at 13,471, the Nasdaq closed at 3,121, up 16 and the S&P 500 gained 11 to 1,472.