U.S. lean hogs extended their rally to four days on growing signs that demand for pork, which sagged during the holidays, is beginning to match current supplies. February hog futures rose 50 to 86.27, April hog futures rose 52 to 87.92.
Live cattle futures finished mostly lower Wednesday due to a slide in wholesale beef prices and as traders took profits after two days of gains.
February Live Cattle closed down 3 to $123, Feeder cattle contracts closed at a record high as sliding corn futures continued to support demand for young cattle. January feeders futures finished up 27 at $150.
US wheat futures ended lower, falling sharply on pressure from corn and weak demand. March wheat in Chicago ended down 12 1/2 to $5.92 while March wheat in KC closed down 20 at $6.53.
US corn futures ended lower as worries about South America's crop move to the background amid weak demand. March corn ended down 10 1/2 to $5.93, its lowest level in a month.
US soybean futures were little changed, managing to recover from early declines on traders unwinding corn/soy spreads, Soy-product futures ended mixed. March soybeans ended unchanged at $11.83, March soy oil dropped 37 to 50.40 while March soy meal ended up $1.50 at $312.
Cotton prices eased after hitting a two-month high Tuesday, a move that was "a little overblown," according to a risk management consultant. The market is also preparing for Lunar New Year, which is when China, the largest importer of cotton, takes a week-long break beginning Jan. 23; cotton trade usually quiet during that time. March cotton fell 66 to close at $97.53, and the May contract fell 41 to $97.30.
Gold futures gained along with the euro on Wednesday, as easing worries about a credit crunch in the euro zone spurred investment in the precious metal as an alternative asset. February gold rose $4.30 $1,659.90, and February silver closed at $30.50, up 41 cents.
Crude futures ended slightly lower Wednesday, settling at nearly the same level where the session began as traders slogged through a mess of oil-demand forecasts, rekindled Europe concerns, the closure of a major refinery and the State Department's decision to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline. February crude dropped 12 cents to $100.59 a barrel. Despite tepid moves in crude Wednesday, gasoline futures surged. February gasoline gained 5.41 cents to $2.82 a gallon, and February distillates fell 2.38 cents to $3.01 a gallon.
Natural gas futures finished at a fresh 10-year low on Wednesday, as the recent selloff driven by milder-than-usual temperatures showed few signs of abating. February Natural gas dropped 1.6 cents to $2.47.
The markets tacked on solid gains on Wednesday, helped by financial, energy and technology shares, on stronger-than-expected quarterly results from banking titan Goldman Sachs and encouraging developments from the IMF. The Dow gained 96 to close at 12,578, the Nasdaq closed at 2,769, up 41 and the S&P 500 jumped 14 to 1,308.