Lean-hog futures reversed early-session gains after a government cash-market report showed a sharp pullback in prices after a big jump the prior day. August lean hogs gained 42 to 93.05, the October contract lost 5 to 80.00.
Cattle futures overcame early gains on Thursday, helped by cooling corn futures, even as lean-hog futures lost steam during the session. Feeder-cattle futures rallied for the second straight session. August live-cattle futures climbed 87 to $118, August feeders jumped 190 to $139.
US soybean and nearby corn futures closed at fresh all-time highs, though off from even higher levels hit Thursday morning. Traders are worried about further crop damage from the worsening US drought, as weather forecasts remain relatively dry and hot. The focus of worries is shifting from corn to soybeans as soybeans are approaching the crucial part of their growing season in late July and August. August soybeans gained 50 1/4 to close at $17.33, September corn closed up 12 3/4 at $8.07, and September wheat in Chicago rose 31 3/4 to $9.35, while September wheat in KC gained 32 to $9.38.
Surging soy and corn prices and weaker US dollar boosted cotton prices. The higher grains prices longer term will be bullish for cotton if farmers in the Southern Hemisphere move cotton acres over to more profitable crops, limiting supplies of the fiber. Near month October cotton gained 69 to close at $71.79, and new crop December gained 70 to close at 72.63.
Gold settled slightly higher after an early rally Thursday, as investors were divided on the likelihood of further financial stimulus to the U.S. economy. August gold gained $9.60 to $1,580.40, and September silver closed at $27.21, up 12.2 cents.
Crude oil surged higher Thursday on renewed fears about Middle East tensions following the latest flare up between Israel and Iran. August crude closed at $92.66 a barrel up $2.79, Front-month gasoline closed at $2.939 a gallon, up 5.55 cents, and Front-month distillates settled at $2.947 a gallon, up 6.94 cents.
Natural-gas futures prices rose to a fresh seven-month high just shy of $3 per million British thermal units on Thursday after government data showed U.S. gas inventories rose by less than expected last week. August nat gas closed at $2.99, up 2.6 cents.
On Wall Street, stocks rose on Thursday for a third straight day, with the S&P 500 at a 2-1/2 month high, as earnings from technology companies and expectations for more monetary stimulus outweighed weak economic data. The Dow gained 34 to 12,943, the Nasdaq closed at 2,965, up 23 and the S&P 500 gained 3 to close at 1,376.