U.S. lean-hog futures slid sharply Wednesday, pressured by slumping cash prices and concerns that pork supplies may be greater than expected. February hog futures, fell to a four-week low, while the April contract sunk to a three-month low. February hogs closed down 2.15 to 84.20, April hogs fell 262 to 87.32.
Live-cattle futures slid Wednesday on concerns about slowing beef demand and spillover effects from losses in lean-hog futures. The February and April cattle contracts each hit 3 1/2-week lows. February live cattle closed down 1 at $131, April live cattle fell 95 to $135.
At the livestock auction held Tuesday in Mount Airy a total of 595 cattle and 42 goats were sold. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $74.50-$83.50. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold from $85.50-$98.50, with high dressing ranging $99-$103.
U.S. corn futures rose Wednesday, boosted by concerns about tight supplies and expectations for the federal government to trim its estimate of domestic corn production last year. Wheat futures fell, pressured by negative technical signals and expectations for the USDA on Friday to report that U.S. farmers last fall planted 3.1% more acres of winter wheat than the year before. Soybean futures ended mixed. Analysts on average expect the USDA's soybean harvest estimate to rise 0.9%, to 2.999 billion bushels. March corn gained 5 1/2 to $6.94, March wheat in Chicago fell five cents to $7.45, March wheat in KC fell 7 1/2 to $8.01, and March soybeans fell one to $13.85
U.S. 2 yellow shelled corn trended five to six cents higher when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.14-$7.64 at feed mills and $7.04-$7.54 at elevators. U.S. 1 yellow soybeans trended mixed and were $13.85 at processors, and $13.06-$13.61 at elevators. New crop U.S. 2 soft red winter wheat was $6.62-$7.13. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants was $459.60 per ton for 48% protein.
Fruit and vegetable prices (shipping point f.o.b.): Cabbage: Demand fairly good. Market about steady. 50 pound cartons Round Green Type medium $8.
Cotton futures ended slightly lower, with March-delivery falling to 74.79. Funds that track index funds brought in some buying because of the annual rebalancing period this week, but this was likely countered by new short positions ahead of the USDA's monthly supply-and-demand report. The May contract lost 31 to finish at 75.67.
Gold futures eased Wednesday as a closely watched indicator of market momentum suggested the metal's rebound from two-week lows would be brief. February gold fell $6.70 to $1,655.50, March silver closed at$30.24, down 21.6 cents.
Crude-oil futures shrugged off news of weak demand and rising inventories Wednesday, settling little changed near the highest level since September. February crude fell 5 cents to $93.10 a barrel, February distillates rose 1.14 cents to $3.06 a gallon, the highest price since Dec. 27. February gasoline fell 1.55 cents to $2.77 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures fell to a three-month low Wednesday as mild U.S. temperatures threaten to curtail heating needs for homes and businesses.
Forecasters are expecting rising temperatures in the eastern half of the U.S. over the next week, continuing a recent pattern of warmer-than-normal winter weather that has kept pressure on prices for more than a month. February Natural gas lost 10.5 cents to $3.11.
On Wall Street, stocks rose on Wednesday, as the first group of earnings reports started to trickle in, without giving a clear direction of how well corporations did during the fourth quarter. The Dow gained 61 to 13,390, the Nasdaq closed at 3,105, up 14, and the S&P 500 gained almost 4 to 1,461.