U.S. lean-hog futures finished mostly lower as traders repositioned ahead of the spot contract's expiration next week. April futures gained 1 to 81.42 after brushing a nearly six-week high earlier in the session. Most-active June futures declined 45 to 92.02
U.S. live-cattle futures finished lower amid profit taking Thursday, following a run-up in prices due to signs of improving demand for beef and slaughter-ready cattle. April live-cattle futures fell 72 to $127, June futures declined 85 to $122.
At the 3 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Smithfield, Norwood and North Wilkesboro a total of 987 cattle and 108 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended mostly $0.50 to $1.50 lower, feeder steers trended $8.00 to $13.00 higher, and heifers trended mostly $1.00 to $5.00 higher when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $71.00 to $87.50. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $92.00 to $103.50 with high dressing up to $108.50.
At the goat auction in Smithfield, 102 goats and 21 sheep were sold.
At the monthly load lot sale held at Mid Atlantic Cattle Sales April 3, an estimated 855 cattle were sold.
U.S. soybean futures settled at a 10-month low Thursday, pressured by higher-than-expected domestic supplies and concerns about a bird flu outbreak in China. Corn futures also fell Thursday, pressured by the high domestic supplies reported last week. Wheat futures fell on lower-than-expected export sales in a weekly government report and on profit-taking after prices of the grain jumped Wednesday.
May soybeans fell 8 1/4 to $13.72, May corn fell 11 1/2 to $6.30, May wheat fell in Chicago fell 2 1/2 to $6.94, and May wheat in KC fell 13 ½ to $7.21.
Greens: Demand is moderate. Market is about steady. Wide range in prices. Various containers, bunched/loose collard, mustard, and turnip tops 7.00-8.00 some 6.50. Kale type was 10.00-15.00.
Sweet potatoes: Demand is moderate. 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, mostly 8.00-9.00, few lower, occasionally higher. No Grade Marks jumbo 6.00-8.00, mostly 6.00-7.00, occasionally higher and lower.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 6 to 12 cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $6.70-$7.15 at feed mills and $6.50-7.10 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 8 cents lower and were $14.12 at processors, and $13.32-$13.72 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat was 1 cent lower and was $6.00 at the elevators. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $440.10 per ton for 48% protein.
A third-consecutive weekly increase in US jobless claims and concerns that Friday's employment figures will also reflect slowing economic growth are striking a chord in the cotton market. Greater unemployment could mean lower apparel sales, and lower demand for cotton. May cotton fell 89 to 88.33, and December new crop also fell 30 to 87.94.
Gold futures ended slightly lower Thursday, paring earlier losses as the dollar weakened and helped cushion gold's declines. June gold dropped $1.10 to $1,552.40, and June silver fell 30 cents to $26.79.
Crude-oil futures prices slid for a second day Thursday, hit by rising U.S. oil supplies and new worries about economic recovery in the world's biggest oil consumer. After a steep drop Wednesday after news that U.S. crude-oil stocks climbed to their highest end-March level since 1931, crude prices shed further after U.S. initial claims for jobless benefits rose by more than expected last week, reaching their highest level since November. May crude fell $1.19 to $93.26 a barrel, May gasoline fell 1.53 cents to $2.89 a gallon, and May distillates fell 3.84 cents to $2.96 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures finish higher Thursday after a government report showed a bigger-than-expected drop in U.S. natural gas stockpiles, signaling strong demand for gas-fired heating last week. May Natural gas gained 4.7 cents to $3.94.
On Wall Street stocks ended slightly higher after the Bank of Japan announced aggressive, market-lifting policies to jump start its economy, but weak jobs data capped gains. The Dow gained 55 to 14,606, the Nasdaq closed at3,224, up 6 and the S&P 500 also gained 6 to 1,559.