The latest rally in corn futures again sparked selling across livestock markets as higher feed costs and scorching summer weather are pushing producers to urgently sell animals just as overheated consumers grill less meat and favor lighter meals. lean-hog futures closed mostly lower due to signs that the ongoing surge in corn and soybean prices is leading some producers to sell more animals than they originally planned in order to limit the number of mouths eating from troughs of pricey feed. August hogs gained 2 to 90.42, the October contract fell 27 to 79.20.
U.S. feeder-cattle contracts continue to face the worst losses among livestock futures from a devastating heat wave that's damaging the nation's crops, forcing farmers to sell stressed animals and deterring consumers from eating meat. August live cattle closed down 40 to $116, August feeders closed the 300-point limit down at $136.
Corn prices jumped Monday as forecasts for more hot, dry weather renewed concerns that a drought in the Midwest is taking a heavy toll on the nation's corn crop. Corn futures have surged in recent weeks as expectations have fallen for a corn harvest that was once expected to set a record.
September Corn rose 36 ¼, nearly the 40-cent limit imposed by the exchange–to $7.76.
Soybean futures also jumped on drought worries Monday. Unlike corn, analysts say, soybean crops could recover some yield potential if rains arrive in the next few weeks, since the key growing period for soybeans is in August. Still, world supplies this year have already been strained by a drought in South America, leaving soybean traders highly sensitive to any signs that U.S. output could be curtailed as well. August soybeans rose 39 to $16.33.
Wheat futures rose, lifted by higher corn prices and uncertainty about how much wheat will be harvested in the Black Sea region. While world wheat supplies remain ample, analysts expect them to tighten compared to last year. September wheat in Chicago climbed 36 ¾ to $8.84, and September wheat in KC gained 33 ½ to $8.84.
Cotton futures ticked higher in late trade after hovering close to even for most of the session. Near-month October gained 54 to $72.30, new crop December gained 64 to $73.30.
Gold futures ended flat Monday as investors marked time ahead of two-day testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. August gold fell 40 cents to $1,591.60, September silver closed at $27.32, down 4.8 cents.
Overriding some bearish new data on U.S. retail sales and weak overall Chinese sentiment, oil prices Monday closed higher in anticipation of the U.S Federal Reserve taking action today to stimulate the economy. August crude settled at $88.43 a barrel, up $1.33, Front-month gasoline settled at $2.85 a gallon, up 3.8 cents, and Front-month distillates settled at $2.83 a gallon, up 4 cents.
Natural gas futures settled lower Monday as forecasts warmer-than-normal temperatures failed to trump concerns that rising natural gas prices will weigh on demand. August Natural gas fell 7.3 cents to $2.80.
On Wall street, a surprise decline in June retail sales was the latest worrying sign from the economy, pushing stocks slightly lower on Monday, but Citigroup earnings limited losses in another forecast-beating report from a bank. The Dow fell 49 to close at 12,727, the Nasdaq closed at 2,896, down 11, and the S&P 500 fell 3 to close at 1,252.