U.S. livestock futures were a lone bright spot Friday, stoked by meat demand for the spring grilling season even as a poor U.S. jobs report sent stock and commodity markets reeling.
Lean hog futures continued to rocket upward after a disastrous spring. A seasonal tightening of supplies is giving lift to wholesale hog and pork prices, in turn sparking a rush of short-covering by investors carrying bets against the market. June hog futures completed six days of sharp gains as they jumped 92 to finish at 90.72, July hogs rose 57 to 91.57
Live cattle futures ticked higher, helped by the rally in the complex and signs of strong demand for high-grade beef. June live cattle gained 60 to $117, August feeders gained 57 to close at $157.
US wheat futures settled sharply lower amid the broad market weakness and improving expectations for the US harvest of winter wheat as anecdotal evidence early on suggests recent dry, hot weather didn't damage the crop as much as expected in the southern Plains. July wheat in Chicago fell 31 1/2 to $6.12, July wheat in KC dropped 28 to 6.37, while July corn fell just 3 3/4 to $5.51. July soybeans gained 4 1/4 to $13.44.
Cotton futures on Friday hit their lowest settlement price in almost 28 months, reigniting concerns that contracts will unravel before the fiber is delivered. July cotton fell 296 to 68.59, the October contract fell the limit to 68.85.
Gold prices roared to a three-week high Friday on speculation of fresh monetary stimulus triggered by a disappointing U.S. monthly employment reading. August gold rose $57.90 to $1,622.10, and July silver gained 86 cents to 28.52.
Crude oil futures tumbled Friday on increasing signs of a global economic slowdown. U.S. futures fell to their lowest point in eight months, while the European benchmark, Brent futures, plunged below the psychologically significant $100 level and closed at its lowest point in 17 months. July crude finished the week at $83.23 a barrel, down $3.30,
Natural gas futures plunged Friday as fears grew that U.S. economic growth was slowing down and energy demand was hitting the skids. July Natural gas fell 9.6 cents to $2.32.
Bull, Bear, Tortoise, Hare….we had a little of everything last week as the Dow turned negative for the year on Friday after a weak U.S. jobs report accelerated a downturn in stocks, fueled by fears that Europe's spiraling debt crisis was dragging down the world economy. The Dow lost 274 to start the month, closing at 12,118, the Nasdaq fell 79 to 2,747, and the S&P 500 closed at 1,278, down 32.