U.S. livestock futures rallied for a second straight session as near-record prices for cattle in cash markets continued to cheer investors in both cattle and hogs. April cattle closed up 120 at $130, March feeder cattle closed up 135 to $158.
The rally in the cattle complex again helped hog futures escape weak fundamentals. Some investors continue to hope rising prices for beef and gasoline will push grocery shoppers and restaurants toward lower-cost meats like chicken and pork. April hog futures finished up 77 at 90.20, June hog futures rose 65 at 99.30.
US wheat futures ended mixed, with winter-wheat contracts slumping on bearish supply outlooks. May wheat in Chicago fell 4 to $6.64 while May wheat in KC dropped 2 1/2 to $7.06.
US corn futures ended lower Thursday, succumbing to profit-taking pressure amid fears of slowing demand. May corn ended down 4 at $6.54.
US soybean futures ended higher, continuing to draw support from smaller South American crop forecasts, Soy-product futures ended mixed. May soybeans ended up 2 1/2 at $13.22, May soy meal rose $2.60 to $355.50 while May soy oil dropped 20 to 54.27.
Cotton futures were going "haywire" on the first day of the new month as traders finished squaring the books, says Penson Futures analyst Sharon Johnson. May Cotton fell 43 to 89.72 and the July contract dropped 55 to 91.32.
Gold futures steadied and silver climbed Thursday, as investors bet the metals' steep drop the day before had pushed prices too low. April Gold rose $10.90 to $1,722.20, May Silver $1.01, to $35.66.
Oil futures jumped over $110.55 a barrel in after-hours trading Thursday following a report of a pipeline explosion in Saudi Arabia. April crude rose as high as $110.55 a barrel after it settled for the day up $1.77, at $108.84 a barrel, April gasoline gained 9.45 cents to $3.35 a gallon, and April distillates gained 6.94 cents to $3.27 a gallon.
Natural gas futures fell almost 6% on Thursday after a government report showed a smaller-than-expected drop in inventories last week, underscoring weak demand for the fuel. April Natural gas fell 15.3 cents to $2.46.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, moving back to 2008 highs, after a jump in bank shares and further upbeat data on the labor market, though sharp gains in oil prices limited the advance. The Dow gained 28 to close at 12,980, the Nasdaq closed at 2,988, up 22, and the S&P 500 gained 8 to close at 1,374.