U.S. lean-hog futures finished higher Thursday, with the December contract hitting a fresh 3 1/2-month high, as the market fought off early weakness. December hogs gained modestly, adding 0.10 cent, or 0.1%, to 80.20 cents a pound at the CME. The February contract edged up 0.05 cent, or 0.1%, to 86 cents a pound. The front-month contract's discount to the lean-hog index, a two-day average of cash market prices, has proven supportive to nearby gains this week, as the futures move to catch up. This encouraged buying Wednesday when front-month hog futures surprised many industry experts by surging 3%.
U.S. live-cattle futures closed higher Thursday after weak morning trading, recouping some of the sharp losses a day earlier. Prices received a boost from traders who viewed Wednesday's declines as overdone. Futures also were helped by rising bids for cattle by meatpackers during the day Thursday. December live-cattle futures closed up 0.47 cent, or 0.4%, to $1.2542 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The February contract also rose, adding 0.5 cent, or 0.4%, to $1.2935 a pound.
U.S. grain and soy futures ended mixed in light trading Thursday, as traders positioned themselves for Friday's crop reports from federal forecasters. Wheat futures posted the strongest finish, boosted by expectations that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will tighten its global supply forecasts for the grain. December wheat futures ended up 8 1/2 cents, or 1%, to $9.02 1/2 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Kansas City Board of Trade December wheat climbed 5 1/2 cents, or 0.6%, to $9.37 a bushel. MGEX December wheat finished down 1 cent, or 0.1%, at $9.58 3/4 a bushel. World wheat supplies are tightening up, amid production woes in the Southern Hemisphere, especially Australia and Argentina, said Bill Gary, president of agricultural-advisory firm Commodity Information Systems Inc. in Oklahoma City. "The USDA will cut world estimates significantly Friday," he said.
U.S. soybean futures declined, slipping to a three-week low. Traders anticipate federal forecasters Friday will raise yield and production estimates for this fall's soybean crop. Soybean futures drew added pressure from a poor weekly export-sales report. The sales raised concerns that world importers might be slowing their aggressive purchases of U.S. supplies as planting conditions improve in Brazil and Argentina, the leading competitors for the U.S. in soybean production. Chicago Board of Trade soybeans for November delivery settled down 9 1/2 cents, or 0.6%, at $14.99 1/4 a bushel. Soybeans for January delivery finished down 11 1/4 cents, or 0.7%, at $14.95 3/4.
Corn futures hovered near unchanged throughout the session. CBOT December corn finished down 3 cents, or 0.4%, to $7.41 1/4.
Cotton edges higher after the USDA reported net sales of 266,000 running bales for the week ending Nov 1 — a large sale for this time of year, traders say. Despite China purchasing almost half of the bales sold, "I actually was a bit impressed with the volume to Turkey," which purchased 64,900 bales, says INTL FCStone's Gary Raines. He says increased consumption in countries other than China could firm up the global supply/demand balance. ICE cotton for December delivery 0.5% higher at 70.15c/lb.
At the livestock auctions held Wednesday at North Wilkesboro, Norwood, and Smithfield, a total of 945 cattle and 336 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended mixed, feeder steers trended $2.00 to $6.00 higher and heifers trended mixed when compared to last week’s sales. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $65.00 to $82.50. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $84.00 to $98.00 with high dressing up to $105.00. M&L 1-2 feeder steers, 400-500 lbs. brought $129.00 to $164.00, 500-600 lbs. brought $116.00 to $153.00. 400-500 lb. M&L 1-2 feeder heifers ranged $122.00 – $139.00 and 500-600 lbs. were $117.00 – $128.00.
VIDEO SALE: At the monthly load lot sales held at Southeast Livestock Exchange and Mid-Atlantic Cattle Sales November 6-7, an estimated 1,645 cattle were sold. Steers: (current delivery) M&L 1-2 665 lbs 139.00 (split loads), 719 lbs 135.99 (split loads), 706 lbs 138.57, 763 lbs 137.35, 820 lbs 134.85, 853 lbs 132.53, 940 lbs 126.66; (Dec) 660 lbs 145.00. Heifers: (current delivery) M&L 1-2 635 lbs 131.00 (split loads), 670 lbs 129.50
(split loads), 725 lbs 131.50 (split loads), 600 lbs 136.25, 762 lbs 126.50, 800 lbs 128.00; (Dec) 640 lbs 135.00, 650 lbs 134.50, 700 lbs 132.75.
N.C. GOATS: At the state graded goat sale in Monroe, 339 goats and 259 sheep
were sold. All prices are quoted per head. Slaughter and Replacement Classes:
Goats-Kids: Selection 1 20-40 lbs 55.00-60.00, 40-60 lbs 90.00-107.50, 60-80 lbs 110.00-130.00; Selection 2 20-40 lbs 40.00-52.50, 40-60 lbs 70.00-82.50, 60-80 lbs 95.00-102.50; Selection 3 20-40 lbs 25.00-37.50, 60-80 lbs 67.50. Yearlings: Selection 1 60-80 lbs 107.50; Selection 2 80-100 lbs 85.00. Does/Nannies: Selection 1 70-100 lbs 117.50-147.00, 100-140 lbs 117.00-162.50; Selection 2 50-70 lbs 40.00-75.00, 70-100 lbs 75.00-97.50, 100-140 lbs 90.00-100.00; Selection 3 70-100 lbs 52.50-60.00. Wethers: Selection 1 70-100 lbs 127.00-182.50. Bucks/Billies: Selection 1 100-150 lbs 120.00-200.00, 150-250 lbs 160.00-232.50; Selection 2 70-100 lbs 72.50-80.00, 100-150 lbs 97.50-110.00; Selection 3 70-100 lbs 45.00-62.50. Sheep-Lambs: Good: 20-60 lbs 35.00-60.00, 60-100 lbs 52.50-75.00, 100-140 lbs 92.50-115.00. Choice and Prime 20-60 lbs 70.00-85.00, 60-100 lbs 78.00-112.00, 100-140 lbs 122.50-155.00. Ewes: Good: 100-200 lbs 100.00-147.50. Utility: 80-100 lbs 75.00-95.00. Cull: 60-120 lbs 50.00-62.50.
FEEDER PIGS: At the state graded feeder pig sale in Mt. Olive a total of 83 pigs were sold. U.S. No. 1 and 2 pigs, 40-50 lbs. averaged 53.00; 50-60 lbs. returned 65.00; 60-70 lbs. averaged 45.00; 80-100 lbs averaged 45.00.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended steady to 3 cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.31-$8.16 at feed mills and $7.26-7.71 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 9 cents lower and were $14.84 at processors, and $14.31-$14.66 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $522.90 per ton for 48% protein.
Oil futures edged higher Thursday, as buyers re-emerged one day after the steepest selloff of the year.
Light, sweet crude for December delivery settled 65 cents, or 0.8%, higher at $85.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange settled 43 cents, or 0.4%, higher at $107.25 a barrel. Futures recouped some ground following Wednesday's 4.8% plunge, which followed a report from the Energy Information Administration that said oil and gasoline stockpiles rose sharply last week as Hurricane Sandy squelched fuel demand.
Front-month December reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled 1.84 cents, or 0.7%, higher at $2.6073 a gallon. December heating oil settled 0.67 cent, or 0.2%, lower at $2.9554 a gallon.
Natural gas futures rallied somewhat Thursday after a government report showed that natural gas inventories grew less than expected. After a day of choppy trading, natural gas futures for December delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled at $3.608 a million British thermal units, up 3 cents, or 0.8%. The jump came after the EIA reported that the amount of gas injected into storage last week was 21 billion cubic feet, below the 27 billion cubic feet forecast by analysts.
Gold futures climbed to a three-week high Thursday as traders focused on the implications of a divided U.S. government ahead of the coming debate over fiscal policy, while muted moves in currency offered little direction. The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, settled higher by $12, or 0.7%, at $1,726 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. With Thursday's gains, gold this week has made up all of last week's declines. Traders and analysts said the reelection of President Barack Obama suggests that the supportive monetary policy and stimulus measures of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will continue.
Stocks fell sharply at the close of trading on Wall Street, extending a slump into a second day as investors worry about the potential for gridlock in Washington. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 121 points to close at 12,811, bringing its two-day loss to 434 points. The Dow plunged 313 on Wednesday as worries about Europe's faltering economy and a looming showdown in the U.S. over fiscal policy came back into focus now that the presidential election had been decided. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 17 points to end at 1,378 and the Nasdaq composite lost 42 points to end at 2,896. Nearly three stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was 3.7 billion, higher than the recent average.