U.S. lean-hog futures rallied Thursday, fueled by perceptions the market was oversold and an upbeat earnings report from pork giant Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD). April futures jumped 255 to 82.80, June hogs added 257 to 92.02.
U.S. live-cattle futures finished mixed Thursday, pressured by flat prices for cattle in cash markets compared to last week. April live-cattle futures fell 5, to $128, and June live-cattle gained 5 to $124.
At the 4 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Monroe, Smithfield, Norwood and North Wilkesboro a total of 875 cattle and 405 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended mixed, feeder steers trended $1.00 to $6.00 higher, and heifers trended $1.00 to $2.00 higher when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $72.00 to $88.50. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $91.00 to $103.00 with high dressing up to $117.00.
STATE GRADED GOAT AND SHEEP SALE: Monroe total receipts: Goats: 294, Sheep: 119. Slaughter and Replacement Classes: Kids: Selection 1 20-40 lbs 57.50-65.00, 40-60 lbs 120.00-132.50, 60-80 lbs 145.00-147.50; Selection 2 20-40 lbs 40.00-53.00, 40-60 lbs 102.50-115.00; Selection 3 40-60 lbs 87.50-95.00. Yearlings: Selection 1 60-80 lbs 145.00-165.00; Selection 2 60-80 lbs 152.50-182.50. Does/Nannies: Selection 1 50-70 lbs 92.50, 100-140 lbs 147.50-200.00; Selection 2 50-70 lbs 60.00-75.00, 70-100 lbs 97.50-107.50, 100-140 lbs 92.50-142.50; Selection 3 70-100 lbs 75.00, 100-140 lbs 70.00-75.00.
Corn futures showed stability after prices slid Wednesday. Soybean futures ended higher, fueled by the threat of tighter U.S. supplies. Federal forecasters are expected to lower their projection for domestic stockpiles at the end of the current crop season, compared with their estimate last month, due to stout export and domestic demand. Wheat futures climbed as well, driven by traders shedding some risk ahead of Friday's reports after recent declines.
May corn ended up 2 3/4 at $6.91, May soybeans finished up 7 1/2 at $14.73, May wheat in Chicago ended up 11 3/4 at $6.95, and Kansas City Board of Trade May wheat rose 10 to $7.34.
Greens: Demand moderate. Various containers bunched/loose Collard, Kale, Mustard, and Turnip Tops 6.50-8.00.
Sweet potatoes: Demand moderate. Market is 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 higher and lower. No Grade Marks jumbo 6.00-8.00, mostly 6.00-7.00, occasionally higher and lower.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended mixed when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.36-$7.76 at feed mills and $7.21-7.91 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 7 to 19 cents higher and were $15.03 at processors, and $14.34-$14.69 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat was 12 cents higher and was mostly $6.76 at the elevators. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $481.10 per ton for 48% protein.
Cotton futures eased Thursday as investors took some profits from bets that prices would rise after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its weekly export sales report. May cotton fell 74 to 86.50, and December new crop fell 33 to 85.98.
Gold futures shuffled sideways for a fourth consecutive session on Thursday, with investors content to stick to the sidelines ahead of Friday's closely watched reading on U.S. unemployment. April Gold rose 20 cents to $1,575.10, and May silver closed at $28.80, up a fraction.
U.S. crude-oil futures were higher Thursday, trading near $91 a barrel on hopes that an improving jobs picture will boost oil demand. April crude oil was 85 cents higher at $91.28 a barrel, April gasoline fell 1.34 cent to $3.11 a gallon, and April distillates fell a fraction to $2.97 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures surged to their highest level for the year Thursday as cold temperatures and greater heating demand spurred a bigger-than-expected drop in the amount of gas in storage last week. April Natural gas jumped 11.2 cents to $3.58.
On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday, with the Dow ending at a record for a third straight day as jobless claims data pointed to a pick-up in the labor market's recovery a day before the closely watched payrolls report. The Dow gained 33 to 14,329, the Nasdaq closed at 3,232, up 9 and the S&P 500 gained 2 to 1,544.