U.S. lean-hog futures finished lower Thursday, after wholesale-pork prices fell to their lowest level since September. Thinly traded February hog futures expired at 87.67 up 2 from the day before, April hogs, now the front-month contract, declined 147 to 84.32, the lowest closing price for that contract in seven months. All other contracts were lower, and many settled at multi-month lows.
U.S. live-cattle futures finished higher Thursday after a day of volatile trading, reversing losses after tumbling to multi-month lows early in the session.
February live-cattle futures rose 4 to $125, Most-active April futures added 37 to $129.
At the 2 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Norwood and North Wilkesboro a total of 734 cattle and no goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended $0.50 higher, feeder steers trended $4.00 to $33.00 lower, and heifers trended $4.00 to $5.00 lower when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $70.50 to $86.50. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $96.00 to $100.00 with high dressing up to $107.50.
U.S. soybean futures fell Thursday, pressured by disappointing export sales and expectations for large South American crops. Wheat futures also fell, pressured by the decline in soybean prices and negative technical signals. Soybeans also weighed on corn, which closed lower for a tenth straight session despite concerns that the current sell-off has been overdone.
March soybeans fell 5 to $14.18, March wheat in Chicago fell 3 1/2 to $7.32, March wheat in KC fell 5 1/4 to $7.75, and March corn fell 3/4 to $6.94.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 1 cent lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.14-$7.74 at feed mills and $7.10-7.74 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 5 cents lower and were $14.28 at processors, and $13.58-$13.98 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $452.20 per ton for 48% protein.
Greens: Demand moderate. Market is about steady. Various containers bunched/loose Collard, Kale, Mustard, and Turnip Tops 6.50-7.00 occasionally higher.
Sweet potatoes: Demand 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 to 7.00, few lower, occasionally higher.
Cotton prices edged up Thursday as some buying returned to the market after futures tested, but failed to break below, the 80 cents a pound level during the previous session. March cotton gained 29 to 81.11, and the may contract gained 15 to 82.36.
Gold slipped to a fresh five-month low Thursday as data showing a drop in demand last year underlined investor caution toward the precious metal. April gold $9.60 to $1,635.50, and Silver fell to a one-month low, with the March contract falling to $30.35.
Crude-oil futures rose Thursday, driven by a surge in gasoline futures on worries of tightening supplies ahead of the peak demand season. March crude rose 30 cents to $97.31 a barrel, March gasoline jumped 8.12 cents, to $3.11 a gallon, and March distillates gained a fraction to $3.22 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures fell sharply Thursday as a withdrawal from U.S. gas stockpiles came in below forecasts, raising concerns about high supplies.
March Natural gas fell 14.3 cents to$3.16.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 eked out a small gain for a third straight session on Thursday, helped by a flurry of merger activity, though investors see no catalysts to lift the market further with major averages near multi-year highs. The Dow fell 9 to 13,973, the Nasdaq closed at 3,198, up 1 and the S&P 500 gained 1 as well to finish at 1,521.