U.S. lean-hog futures settled lower Friday, weighed down by technical indicators that some of the contracts have already reached a "top," and uncertainty about whether or not supplies of slaughter-ready hogs will swell on the recent lows in grain prices. December lean hogs shed 12 to 82, The new front-month February contract lost 5 to 85.40
U.S. live-cattle futures finished higher Friday, amid a slowly firming cash market as demand for cattle picks up. December live cattle picked up 7 to $126, February cattle, the most actively traded contract, added 112 to $132.
At the livestock auction held Thursday at Smithfield a total of 551 cattle and 9 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended $3.00 to $3.50 higher, feeder steers trended $8.00 to $16.00 lower and heifers trended mixed when compared to last week’s sale.
US soybean futures settled higher for third straight day, fueled by strong domestic and export demand. Corn settled near session highs, climbing on technically based buying, while wheat was supported by lingering worries about dryness issues for winter crops in the Great Plains. January soybeans gained 19 1/2 at $14.96, March corn ended up 10 1/2 at $7.30, March wheat in Chicago finished up 5 1/2 at $8.14, and March wheat in KC gained 1 ½ to $8.64.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 10 to 19 cents higher when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.20-$8.00 at feed mills and $7.11-7.61 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 15 to 20 cents higher and were $14.71 at processors, and $14.16-$14.61 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $512.70 per ton for 48% protein.
ICE cotton futures ended slightly higher, Friday. While cotton faces "some serious headwinds…next year there are a lot of reasons to be upbeat on prices," says Knight Futures' Sharon Johnson, pointing to smaller plantings expected in big exporters. March cotton gained 53 to 75.09, and the May contract also gained 53 to 76.04.
Gold futures were flat Friday as trading volumes continued to decline as a weaker dollar offset pressure from data showing U.S. inflation slowed in November. February gold gained 20 cents to settle near unchanged at $1,697.00, March silver closed at $32.29, down 5.6 cents.
Crude-oil futures rose Friday as traders and analysts said optimistic data from the U.S. and China gave the markets a respite from fears of the U.S. fiscal cliff. Near-month crude futures gained 84 cents to $86.73 a barrel, January gasoline gained 6 cents to $2.66, and January distillates gained 3.7 cents to $29.98 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures fell for a seventh straight session, sinking Friday as warmer-than-normal weather in the Midwest and the Eastern U.S. continues to melt demand for the home-heating fuel. January Natural gas fell 3.3 cents to $3.31.
On Wall Street, stocks fell on Friday as another slide in Apple took a toll and investors unloaded some shares because of the uncertainty surrounding the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. The Dow fell 27 to 13,143, the Nasdaq closed at 2,970, down 22 and the S&P 500 fell 4 to 1,414.