Reports that Japan will ease import restrictions for US beef became a match that lit a fire in livestock futures Wednesday. The reports coincided with early-session stability in corn futures and quickly enticed traders to cover shorts after weeks of losses across the meat complex. Beaten-down feeder-cattle futures closed up the 300 point limit, with August finishing at $137 while August live cattle jumped 260 to $118. The gains spilled into hogs, with August climbing 267 to 92.62, and the October contract gained 237 to 80.05.
US grain and soy futures jumped to close higher Wednesday on continued worries of the Midwest drought reducing crop yields. Forecasts are mostly hot and dry. Rains in the next day or two will be spotty and may miss the dry parts of Illinois and Indiana that they previously looked set to cross. September corn gained 15 1/2 to$7.95, a new all-time closing high for the front month, August soybeans jumped 44 1/2 at $16.83, September wheat in Chicago rose 18 1/4 to $9.03, and September wheat in KC gained 13 to $9.06
Cotton futures gained, but continued to bounce around in their recent range of approximately 70 to 73c/lb as concerns about weather duke it out with concerns about demand. December cotton gained 88 to 71.93, and near month October gained 99 to $71.10.
Gold futures retreated amid a stronger dollar and after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke again didn't commit to fresh liquidity measures in his testimony to Congress. August gold fell $18.70 to $1,570.80, and September silver closed at $27.09, down 22.1 cents.
Oil prices rose again Wednesday, blowing past a mediocre oil inventory report to notch a higher closing price for the sixth straight day.
August crude closed at $89.87 a barrel, Front-month gasoline settled at $2.88 a gallon, up 3.84 cents, and front month distillates settled at $2.87 a gallon, up 3.54 cents.
Natural gas futures jumped to a seven-month high Wednesday as forecasts warned that already scorching temperatures will likely continue through the end of July across much of the U.S. August Natural gas gained 17.7 cents to $2.97.
On Wall Street the S&P 500 touched its highest level since early May on Wednesday as corporate profits from bellwethers Intel and Honeywell defied fears of a collapse in earnings. The Dow gained 103 to close at 12,908, the Nasdaq closed at 2,942, up 32, and the S&P 500 gained 9 to 1,372.