Livestock futures posted strong gains, Friday as the big swell in global stock and commodity markets helped lift cattle and hogs through concerns about near-term demand. Traders were modestly encouraged by stable prices in cash-cattle markets. June live cattle expired during the session close to unchanged at $116, the Aug cattle contract gained 112 to $120. Feeders survived earlier losses to gain 100 in the Aug contract. In hogs, all but nearby July moved higher, helped by a rally in corn. July hogs fell 10 to 96.62, the August contract gained 87 to $94.77.
US front-month soybeans jumped to a four-year high on strong outside markets and growing worries about drought in the Midwest. Traders looked past USDA reports Friday morning that show soybean inventories and plantings at higher levels than the average analyst prediction, as the numbers weren't too far out of line. July soybeans rose 46 3/4 to $15.12, and November soybeans rose 24 1/4 to $14.27. July corn gained 20 1/2 to $6.72 on tighter-than-expected corn inventories. July wheat in Chicago jumped 13 to $7.39 on lower-than-expected total wheat plantings, and July wheat in KC gained 3 ½ to $7.38.
Friday’s cotton move was a bit like handing in extra credit for a class you've already failed. While USDA expects US cotton acreage to fall 14% y-o-y, drought conditions have improved in the southern US and Texas, which could mean a bigger crop could be on the way. Near month July gained 186 to close at $72,16, and new crop December gained 182 to $71.33.
Silver futures rose more than 5% on Friday, while gold retook the $1,600 level, as investors cheered surprising signs of progress in Europe's battle to contain its bank crisis. August Gold climbed back above the psychologically important $1,600 level, settling up $53.80 at $1,604.20 an ounce, and Silver, which had traded at a 19-month low a day earlier, increased $1.33, to $27.58.
Buoyed by the strong results at a European Union summit and renewed anxiety on Iran, crude oil futures shot up more than 9% on Friday, outperforming other leading commodities and overlooking the latest bearish news of weak consumer sentiment. Nymex crude oil futures settled at $84.96 per barrel, up $7.27, gasoline settled at $2.72 a gallon, up 11.3 cents, and Front-month distillates settled at a $2.70 a gallon, up 14.4 cents.
Natural-gas futures rose sharply Friday as traders shifted their focus to hot weather expected to sweep much of the U.S. in the coming weeks, bringing demand for cooling with it. August nat gas gained10.2 cents to $2.82.
On Wall Street, stocks surged on Friday to close out a sour quarter on a high note as investors cheered an agreement by European leaders to stabilize the region's banks, a pact that helped remove some of the uncertainty that has plagued markets. The Dow gained 277 to close at 12,880, the Nasdaq closed at 2,935, up 85, and the S&P 500 gained 33 to close at 1,362.