U.S. cattle futures continued to slump Tuesday, as investors reeled in bets that the market would climb higher after a week of strong gains.
December live-cattle futures slid 0.65 centto $1.30 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after hitting the highest levels in nearly a month late last week. Cattle futures for February fell 0.65 cent, to $1.35 a pound. Feeder-cattle futures for January slipped 0.17 cent, to $1.62 a pound.
Strengthening demand for cattle in the cash markets and severe snowstorms in the past week have sent cattle futures off multiyear lows, with prices climbing by 9% during last week’s shortened, lighter-volume holiday trading.
Although a surge in the wholesale beef market has made some market-watchers hopeful that cash-cattle prices will continue to advance this week, in the futures market, profit-taking has capped further gains while investors worked to gauge the damage of the severe snowstorms and heavy winds.
Hog futures ended mostly lower, pressured by selling across the livestock markets as investors exit bullish bets before the year’s end. February hog futures rose 0.02 cent, to 59.15 cents a pound. Hogs for April fell 0.17 cent, to 65.87cents a pound.
U.S wheat futures finished higher Tuesday as concerns about weather lent support to the grains.
Corn futures recovered from early-session losses, and soybean futures also rose.
Wheat futures climbed amid worries that recent heavy rains could threaten the crop’s prospects in parts of the U.S. before it enters dormancy in the winter. That could dampen supplies, potentially supporting prices.
Wheat contracts for March delivery added 9 1/4 cents, at $4.75 3/4 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Corn futures were lower early in the session and then reversed and finished higher. Some analysts said corn may have hit a bottom in the near term after reaching a low for the March contract. CBOT March corn gained 1 1/2 cents, at $3.62 1/2 a bushel.
Soybean futures rebounded from declines the previous day and week. CBOT January soybeans settled 5 cents, , higher at $8.70 a bushel.
Cotton prices failed to sustain a brief rally Tuesday after winter weather slammed Texas, raising fears that unharvested crops there could sustain damage.
Cotton for March delivery dropped 0.2% to end at 63.87 cents a pound after rising as high as 64.25 cents a pound in earlier trade.
“The freeze hurts if the bolls aren’t open yet. At this point in time it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference,” said Louis Rose, founder of commodities consulting firm Risk Analytics.
Texas, which grows the most cotton in the U.S., is largely finished with its harvest, with about 5% still left on the stalk, Mr. Rose said. The snow, he said, could delay some shipments of cotton to ginning mills.
Cotton has been trading in a tight range between 62 cents and 65 cents since late November.
U.S. stocks are closing broadly higher as traders were encouraged by a pickup in consumer confidence and rising prices for energy.
Chesapeake Energy jumped 13 percent Tuesday and Consol Energy rose 5 percent. Among retailers, Kohl’s climbed 3 percent.
The gains put the Standard & Poor’s 500 index back into the black for the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 192 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,720.
The S&P 500 index rose 21 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,078. The Nasdaq composite climbed 66 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,107.
The price of crude oil increased 3 percent to almost $38 a barrel in New York.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.31 percent.