Natural Gas Rises to Year-To-Date High

Cattle futures bounced Friday after the Trump administration said it reached an agreement with Beijing to reopen the Chinese beef market to U.S. meat by this summer.

American ranchers and packers have long pushed for a deal that would resume U.S. beef exports to China, largely halted since 2003. China is the fastest-growing beef market in the world.

“This is tremendous news for the American beef industry,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We will once again have access to the enormous Chinese market.”

Live cattle futures jumped on the announcement, opening near their daily upper limit on Friday before easing. Live cattle futures for June delivery closed 1% higher at $1.25175 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Underlying signs of domestic beef supply-and-demand are favorable to optimists, however. Wholesale beef prices continue to rise to multiyear highs, hitting $2.47 a pound on Friday morning. Cattle weights, meanwhile, are falling as feedyards sell animals early while prices are good.

Hog futures, which have been tied to cattle futures recently, also rose. CME June lean hog futures closed 1.2% higher at 77.95 cents a pound.

The hog-and-pork trade has benefited from underlying signs of demand. Cash hog prices, pork values and packer margins all rose on Thursday.

The USDA projected

Saturday’s hog slaughter at 89,000, below last week. Analysts say that is a sign of an ongoing supply pinch that could help support futures into next week.

Grain and soybean futures were mixed in a quiet session. Trading volume fell from Thursday. Several days of dry weather in much of the corn belt should allow farmers to make “significant planting progress” of corn and soybeans, MDA Weather Services says. Some analysts predicted that corn planting would approach three-quarters completion over the weekend. CBOT July corn futures rose 0.5% to $3.71 a bushel. Soybeans fell 0.3% to $9.63 and wheat dropped 0.2% to $4.32 3/4.

Crude oil prices were steady on Friday while the dollar fell. Oil prices closed nearly unchanged on Friday, after fluctuating between gains and losses throughout the day as traders weighed inventory data and look to the global oil cartel to extend a production-cut deal later this month.

Light, sweet crude for June delivery settled up 1 cent, or 0.02%, to $47.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices rose 3.5% for the week, breaking a losing streak after three consecutive weeks of losses. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $50.84 a barrel. Gasoline futures rose 0.9% to $1.5761 a gallon, and diesel futures rose 02% to $1.4933 a gallon.

Natural gas prices rose for the fourth day in a row Friday, led higher by signs of a recovery in consumer demand.

Futures for June delivery gained 4.8 cents, or 1.4%, to $3.424 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, closing at the highest level since Dec. 30. The recent rally has pushed prices nearly 8% higher over the last four sessions.

Net bullish bets on gold fell to their lowest level since March, as investors exited the safe haven metal amid falling global political risk and expectations for a rate increase in June. Bets on a higher gold price outnumbered those on a drop in gold by 99,920 contracts, data from the CFTC showed. Gold prices closed at $1,227.80 a troy ounce, down 3.2% for the month.

Wall Street slipped on Friday, ending the week lower as tepid economic data weighed on banks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average  declined 22 points to end at 20,896.61 points and the S&P 500  lost 3 to 2,391. The Nasdaq Composite added 5 points to 6,121.23.

For the week, the Dow fell 0.5 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.3 percent.


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.