U.S. lean-hog futures finished mixed Thursday, supported in nearby contracts by a report indicating U.S. pork exports in October set a record for shipments in terms of volume and value. December lean hogs added 12 to 82.20, February gained 5 to 86.15.
U.S. live-cattle futures finished modestly lower after gaining early in the session Thursday, as traders anticipated that the cash market weakness seen over the past few weeks may make gains in the futures market harder to achieve. December live-cattle fell.15 to $126, the February live cattle contract shed 32 to $131.
At the 2 livestock auctions held Wednesday at North Wilkesboro and Norwood a total of 859 cattle and 9 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended steady to $10.00 lower, feeder steers trended $3.00 to $9.00 higher, and heifers trended steady to $3.00 higher when compared to the sales last week.
US soybean futures settled higher, buoyed by better-than-expected weekly export sales. Soybeans finished higher, but dropped well off early gains as traders factor in the potential for record South American crops to ease the strain on US soy stockpiles. Corn and wheat futures eased, with lagging export demand weighing on both markets. January soy settled up 3 at $14.76, March wheat in Chicago dropped 3 1/2 at $8.08, March wheat in KC fell 2 ½ to 8.62, and March corn settled down 5 1/4 at $7.20.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 5 to 8 cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.01-$7.90 at feed mills and $7.12-7.50 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 3 cents higher and were $14.56 at processors, and $13.96-$14.42 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $510.30 per ton for 48% protein.
Rising cotton prices have not quashed foreign mill demand, but it is thinning, traders say. March cotton gained 35 to 75.47, the May contract fell 49 to 75.51.
Gold futures settled lower Thursday as concerns about volatile end-of-year market conditions and the looming threat of stalled U.S. budget negotiations triggered a rush to the sidelines. February gold fell $21.10 to $1,696.80, and March silver closed at $32.35, down $1.42.
Crude oil futures slid 1% Thursday as doubts about a U.S. fiscal cliff deal eclipsed any optimism about fresh economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve. January crude fell 88 cents to $85.89 a barrel, January gasoline fell 4.44 cents to $2.60 a gallon, and January distillates fell 2.31 cents to $2.94.
Natural gas futures closed lower Thursday for a sixth straight day after a U.S. inventory report showed surprisingly lofty inventories. January nat gas closed at $3.34, down3.5 cents.
A seven-day rally in world shares came to a halt and commodity prices slipped on Thursday after negotiations over the U.S. "fiscal cliff" hit a wall, with both Republicans and the White House voicing frustration at the lack of progress. The Dow fell 74 to 13,170, the Nasdaq closed at 2,992, down 21 and the S&P 500 fell 9 to 1,419.