Oil Futures Hit Nine-Month High as Violence Extends in Iraq
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Hog futures ended mostly higher Thursday. Hogs for June delivery were flat with Wednesday’s close at $1.1597 a pound. August hogs rose 0.85 cent, or 0.7%, to $1.3080 a pound.

U.S. live-cattle futures climbed by the exchange-imposed daily limit Thursday, trimming some gains into the close, as traders digested a surge in prices paid by processors in the negotiated markets.  June live-cattle futures advanced 2.97 cents, or 2.1%, to $1.46025 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a six-week closing high. August cattle rose 2.85 cents, to $1.4505 a pound.  Feeder cattle for August delivery settled 2.97 cents higher at $2.0585, a fresh all-time closing high for any front-month contract.

Soybeans dropped to a two-month low as more rain is forecast for parts of the U.S. Midwest, improving soil conditions for recently planted crops.

As much as three inches of rain is forecast to fall in parts of the Midwest from Kansas to Michigan in the next seven days, according to the National Weather Service. Weather predictions are indicating a high probability of above-average precipitation in the next six to 10 days.

About three-fourths of U.S. soybeans were in good or excellent condition as of Sunday, the National Weather Service said this week. In a Wednesday report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast soybean output at a record.

Speculative traders also sold contracts after the price fell through important technical levels, analysts said.

Soybean futures for July delivery dropped 30 1/4 cents, or 2.1%, to $14.15 1/4 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the lowest settlement price for a front-month contract since March 24.

Wheat futures also saw some fund managers liquidate long positions, or bets that prices would rise, after the USDA on Wednesday increased its outlook for global production and stockpiles in the 2014-15 season. While the U.S. hard-red winter crop is suffering from months of drought, and in some areas, rain in the past two weeks that now is delaying harvest, the outlook for global production is favorable.

Wheat futures for July delivery fell 4 cents, or 0.7%, to $5.85 1/4 a bushel on the CBOT.

Corn futures for July delivery rose 3 cents, or 0.7%, to $4.44 a bushel.

Cotton for July delivery ended up 0.1% at 85.62 cents a pound.

U.S. oil prices jumped to their highest point since September on Thursday as the government in oil-producing Iraq continues to lose cities in a growing sectarian conflict. Light, sweet crude for July delivery rose $1.72, to $106.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on ICE Futures Europe rose $1.95, not 19.5 cents, to $111.90 a barrel.  Front-month July reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, rose 4.32 cents, or 1.4%, to $3.0440 a gallon. July diesel rose 5.03 cents, or 1.7%, to $2.9546 a gallon.

Natural-gas prices surged to the largest one-day percentage gain since February on Thursday, after U.S. stockpiles of the fuel increased at a slower rate than expected. Natural gas for July delivery rose 5.6%, or 25.4 cents, to $4.762 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, following three straight sessions of losses.

The boost comes after the latest stockpile update by the U.S. Energy Information Administration failed to meet projections. The EIA said 107 billion cubic feet of natural gas were put into storage in the week ended June 6, slightly less than analysts’ expectations of 110 bcf.

U.S. stocks fell in Thursday trading on disappointing economic news and the surge in the price of oil. Airline stocks are down sharply because of higher crude prices.  Dow Jones Industrials lost 109 points to 16734, while Nasdaq closed at 4297, down34 and Standard & Poors 500 slipped 13 to 1930.

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.

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