U.S. lean-hog futures sunk to multi-month lows Thursday, buffeted by lower prices for cash hogs and concerns about pork demand. April hog futures, fell 57 to 82.37, the May contract fell 47 to 89.90.
U.S. live-cattle futures finished mixed, supported in the spot contract by the heavy snowfall in U.S. cattle-feeding regions Thursday, which could pinch beef supplies. February live-cattle picked up 2 to $125, April futures shed 4 to $127.
At the 2 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Smithfield and North Wilkesboro a total of 221 cattle and 81 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended $0.50 to $7.00 lower, feeder steers trended steady to $13.00 higher, and heifers trended $1.00 to $17.00 lower when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $70.00 to $79.50. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $88.50 to $93.00 with high dressing up to $97.00.
U.S. wheat futures fell to a 7 1/2-month low Thursday as a major winter storm brought much-needed moisture to wheat crops in the Great Plains. Soybean futures closed mixed, with futures for near-term delivery bolstered by concerns that strong demand is draining precariously tight U.S. stockpiles. Meanwhile, corn futures ended lower, pressured by weakness in wheat prices and government projections of U.S. corn harvests rebounding in 2013 after the drought plagued crops last year.
March wheat in Chicago dropped 7 1/4 cents to $7.21, Kansas City Board of Trade March wheat dipped 20 to $7.57, March soybeans finished up 5 at $14.87, and March corn ended down 9 3/4 at $6.90.
At the state graded feeder pig sale in Mt. Olive a total of 65 pigs were sold. U.S. No. 1 and 2 pigs 40-50 lbs. averaged 89.00, U.S. No. 3 returned 89.00; U.S. No. 3 60-70 lbs averaged 69.00; U.S. No. 1 and 2 pigs 80-100 lbs returned 63.00. U.S. No. 1-3 30-40 lbs averaged 80.00; 100-130 lbs returned 63.00.
Greens: Demand moderate. Various containers bunched/loose Collard, Kale, Mustard, and Turnip Tops 6.50-8.00.
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, few lower, occasionally higher. No Grade Marks jumbo 6.00-8.00, mostly 6.00 to 7.00, few lower, occasionally higher.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 10 cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.10-$7.75 at feed mills and $7.06-7.70 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 5 cents higher and were $14.97 at processors, and $14.27-$14.68 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $482.30 per ton for 48% protein.
Cotton futures eased Thursday as a much stronger dollar pressured the market, curbing some interest from foreign buyers. May cotton fell 123 to 83.23, and the July contract lost 124 to 84.18.
Gold futures inched into positive territory as some investors repurchased previously sold positions to lock in profits on gold's five-day slide, while others bought gold at levels not seen in seven months. April gold rose 60 cents to $1,578.60, April silver gained 83 cents to 28.73.
U.S. crude futures fell Thursday to the lowest settlement this year after weekly government data showed an increase in domestic oil stockpiles. April crude dropped $2.38 to $92.84 a barrel, March gasoline fell 2.30 cents to $3.03 a gallon, and March distillates fell 6.06 cents to $3.09 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures prices fell Thursday as ample supplies face off against forecasts for March's often-unpredictable weather. March natural-gas futures fell 3.3 cents to $3.24.
On Wall Street, stocks fell for a second day on Thursday and gauge of investor concern hit it’s highest in two month after reports cast doubt over the health of the US and euro-zone economies. The Dow fell 49 to 13,880, the Nasdaq closed at 3,131, down 32, and the S&P 500 fell 9 to 1,502.