U.S. lean hog futures shot upward on Tuesday after a jump in wholesale pork prices reinforced recent signs of a long-awaited seasonal upturn in demand for grill-friendly cuts like chops and ribs. June hog contracts closed up 1.2% to 86.40 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a two-week high for that contract. The session marked the first in which June hogs traded as the spot hogs contract, or soonest-expiring futures, after May hogs expired in trading on Monday. July hogs rallied 2.2% to close at 87.40 cents a pound.
Live cattle futures extended strong gains from Monday, lifted by a surge in wholesale beef prices. Cattle for June delivery finished up 0.27 cent, or 0.2% to $1.1642 a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. August cattle gained 0.27 cent, or 0.2%, to $1.1872 a pound. May feeder cattle finished unchanged at $1.4942 a pound.
U.S. wheat futures rose 2% Tuesday, boosted by concerns about dry weather in overseas wheat-producing regions and a less optimistic government assessment of the U.S. winter-wheat crop. Tuesday's rally came after wheat prices mostly fell over the past two months. Mostly favorable U.S. weather has led to fast development of the winter-wheat crop that was planted last fall and will start being harvested in the next few weeks. The weather conditions have raised analysts' expectations for a large, early harvest that will augment already ample global wheat supplies. Wheat for July delivery rose 10 1/4 cents, or 1.7%, to $6.08 1/2 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Kansas City Board of Trade July wheat rose 13 cents, or 2.1%, to $6.27 1/2 a bushel. July wheat rose 24 3/4 cents, or 3.4%, to $7.50 1/2 a bushel at the MGEX in Minneapolis.
July soybeans rose 26c to $14.13.
Cotton futures ended slightly higher despite a stronger dollar. "It looks like we're perhaps finding a bit of a bottom here," says INTL FCStone's Chris Kramedjian. "At this point, it looks like there's a little bit of position-adjusting going on." He notes that for prices to fall even more than they have in recent sessions, more rain is needed in Texas and Georgia, the top two US cotton-producing states. ICE July-delivery settled 0.4% higher at 79.16c/pound.
Crude-oil futures finished below $94 for the first time in five months as European political turmoil dimmed prospects for economic growth. Concerns about the European economy and rising global oil supplies have weighed on the market for more than a week and brought prices for Nymex crude to a fresh settlement low for the year–and the lowest level since December 2011. Light, sweet crude for June delivery fell 80 cents, or 0.84%, to settle at $93.98 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, June Brent futures gained 67 cents, or 0.6%, to $112.24 a barrel on the Intercontinental Exchange.
Natural gas futures climbed 2.8%, to settle Tuesday at $2.50 per million British thermal units as traders anticipate upcoming data will show U.S. inventories rose by less-than-typical levels last week. Prices shook off Monday's hefty 3.1% drop to climb back to what traders describe as a critical price level that could clear the way for a further quick gain of 10 cents or more. Monday's slide came after prices settled narrowly above $2.50/mmBtu on Friday for the first time since Feb. 29.
Gold futures slumped for a third session Tuesday, again tracking the euro lower against the dollar on worries that Europe's debt crisis could be set to worsen because of political gridlock in Greece. The most-actively traded contract, for June delivery, settled down $3.90, or 0.3%, at $1,557.10 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since Dec. 29.
It was a red letter day on Wall Street, with the Dow losing 63 points to settle at 12632. The Nasdaq dropped 8 to 2893. The S&P 500 lost 7 points to finish at 1330.