U.S. lean-hog futures closed higher Thursday, snapping a four-session losing streak that brought the front-month contract to a fresh 4 1/2-month low. Lean hogs for April picked up 47 to 78.35 after settling Wednesday at the lowest closing price for the spot contract since Nov. 6. June hogs rose 105 to 89.55.
U.S. live-cattle futures rose to a one-week high Thursday, reflecting sentiment that prices may have hit a bottom during this week's declines. Live-cattle futures for April delivery gained 37 to $126, June futures edged up 1 to $122.
At the 3 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Smithfield, Norwood and North Wilkesboro a total of 1032 cattle and 229 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended mostly steady to $1.50 lower, feeder steers trended mostly steady to $9.00 lower, and heifers trended mostly $2.00 to $11.00 lower when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $70.50 to $88.50. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $90.00 to $103.50 with high dressing up to $108.00.
U.S. soybean futures jumped to a fresh one-week high Thursday amid concerns about tight domestic supplies and positive technical signals. Corn futures ended higher, reversing early losses as concerns about tight supplies overshadowed smaller-than-expected weekly export sales. Wheat futures finished lower, pressured by weak export sales and traders taking profits from recent gains.
May soybeans finished up 29 1/4 at $14.49, May corn gained a half cent to $7.33, May wheat in Chicago dropped 7 1/4 to $7.28, and Kansas City Board of Trade May wheat dropped 5 3/4 to $7.60
Sweet potatoes: Demand is fairly good. Market is about steady. 40 lb cartons Orange Types U.S. No. 1 13.00-15.00 few higher and lower. U.S. No. 1 Petite 10.00-12.00 few higher and lower. U.S. No. 2 7.00-9.00, few lower, occasionally higher. No Grade Marks jumbo 6.00-8.00, mostly 6.00-7.00, few lower, occasionally higher.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended steady to 1 cent higher when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.78-$8.18 at feed mills and $7.53-8.18 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 30 cents higher and were $14.84 at processors, and $13.78-$14.49 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat was 7 cents lower and was $6.28-$7.09 at the elevators. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $467.90 per ton for 48% protein.
Cotton futures settled at a seven-session low after a U.S. Department of Agriculture report showed net sales of the fiber to buyers overseas fell almost 40% last week. May Cotton fell 105 to end at 88.05, and December new crop fell 16 to 87.82.
Gold rose to the highest price in more than three weeks Thursday as concerns about the stalled Cyprus bailout stoked demand for the metal as a safe-haven. April gold rose $6.30 to $1,613.80, May silver closed at $29.21, up 39.5 cents
Crude-oil futures prices settled weaker Thursday, knocked lower by concerns over the ongoing debt crisis in Cyprus and worries that it could spread further into Europe. May crude oil fell $1.05 at $92.45 a barrel, April gasoline futures fell 4.57 cents to $3.07 a gallon, while April distillates gained a fraction to $2.89 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures prices retreated from an early push above $4 on Thursday after data showed U.S. gas stockpiles declined by less than expected last week. Natural gas for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 2.6 cents at $3.93.
On Wall Street, stocks fell Thursday after Oracle Corp fell short of revenue expectations and worries about Cyprus’s effect on the euro zone intensified. The Dow fell 90 to 14,421, the Nasdaq closed at 3,220, down 31, and the S&P 500 dropped almost 13 to close at 1,545.