Lean-hog futures closed mostly higher, though cracks in the facade of an ongoing rally began to emerge.
Hog contracts for October touched fresh two-week highs and closed up 10 at 74.85. Front-month hogs have closed higher for eight of the last nine sessions. But December hogs, the most actively traded, fell 52 to settle at 74.20.
U.S. live-cattle futures closed lower Thursday after the latest sales in cash markets confirmed traders' suspicions that demand along the supply chain for beef has slowed a bit from its impressive clip. Feeder-cattle contracts also closed mostly lower. October live cattle fell 60 to close at $125, September feeders lost 70 to close at $144.
At the livestock auctions held Wednesday at North Wilkesboro, Norwood, and Smithfield a total of 662 cattle and 168 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended $5.00 to $10.00 lower, feeder steers were $1.00 to $19.00 lower, and feeder heifers trended $1.00 lower when compared to last week’s sales.
US soybean futures tumbled, dropping to a new 5-week low as funds liquidated long positions. Futures dropped with declines accelerating once prices slipped below the week's earlier lows, traders say. Corn and wheat drew soybeans lower, with harvest pressure and concerns about lagging demand aiding the losses. November soy fell 50 3/4 to $16.18, December corn lost 10 1/2 to $7.46, December wheat in Chicago fell 2 to $8.79, and December wheat in KC fell ½ to $9.09.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 10 to 11 cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.36-$8.21 at feed mills and $7.31-7.71 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 51 cents lower and were $16.93 at processors, and $15.69-$16.29 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat trended 2 cents lower. Prices were $8.00 at the elevators. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants was $542.30 per ton for 48% protein.
N.C. EGGS: The market is higher on extra large and large, steady on the balance. Supplies are moderate. Retail demand is good. Weighted average prices for small lot sales of Grade A eggs delivered to nearby retail outlets: Extra Large 156.16, Large 155.39, Medium 129.51 and Small 90.00.
NY cotton futures ended lower in thin volume after signs of a manufacturing slowdown in China, the world's top consumer of the fiber. HSBC's preliminary data for China's September purchasing managers index showed another month of contraction in the sector. December cotton fell 119 to 75.22, and near month October fell 114 to 73.74.
U.S. oil futures finished nearly unchanged Thursday, pausing following a three-day sell-off, though gasoline futures rallied sharply on concerns about supply shortages. October crude dropped 11 cents to $91.87 a barrel, October gasoline jumped 7.54 cents to $2.90 a gallon, and October distillates rose 5.35 cents to $3.09 a gallon.
Natural gas futures rose Thursday, ending a five-day losing streak after government data on U.S. gas stockpiles was lower than normal for this time of year. October Natural gas gained 3.5 cents to $2.79.
On Wall Street, the Dow industrials ended slightly higher on Thursday while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq cut most of the day's losses in a sign that investor sentiment remains generally positive despite several weak manufacturing surveys from around the world. The Dow gained 18 to close at 13,596, the Nasdaq closed at 3,175, down 6 and the S&P 500 fell a fraction to 1,460.