Stocks Slide Into The Close

U.S. lean-hog futures ended higher Wednesday, prolonging their rally on strong pork prices and tight near-term hog supplies. CME lean hogs for June closed up 0.675 cent, or 0.7%, at $1.0095 a pound, the highest price for front-month hogs since August 2011. The contract has ended higher five-straight days. CME July lean hogs closed up 0.025 cent at 99.175 cents, ending higher for the fifth day in a row. The market has rallied for most of the past month.

U.S. live-cattle futures were mixed, as the market remains range-bound amid sluggish beef demand and underlying support from the surge in hogs. June live cattle closed down 0.175 cent, or 0.1%, at $1.2015, while October live cattle ended up 0.125 cent at $1.23125. Feeder cattle ended higher amid support from slumping corn futures, which declined on the USDA's monthly supply and demand report. The August contract ended up 0.775 cent, or 0.5%, at $1.4545 a pound.

Wheat futures prices fell as the USDA raised its forecast for U.S. wheat production this year, instead of cutting its estimate as analysts had expected. The report forecast domestic wheat output this year at 2.08 billion bushels, up 1% from the agency's previous projection due to better expected crop yields for wheat about to be harvested in the southern Plains and the Midwest. CBOT July wheat futures settled down 13 3/4 cents, or 2%, at $6.83 a bushel.

Soybean futures ended mixed after the USDA forecast domestic soybean stockpiles at the end of next summer will total 265 million bushels, unchanged from its projection last month. The forecast was below the average analyst prediction of 273 million bushels. CBOT July soybean futures settled up 1/4 cent, or 0.02%, at $15.40 3/4 a bushel. November soybeans, associated with supplies to be harvested this fall, fell 12 3/4 cents or 1% to $13.14 1/4 a bushel.

Corn futures prices fell after U.S. forecasters cut their projections for domestic corn supplies next year by less than analysts had expected and reiterated expectations that farmers will produce a record crop this autumn. Corn futures for July delivery, the front-month contract, settled down 8 3/4 cents or 1.3% at $6.50 3/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Cotton futures rose Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its estimate for U.S. production of the fiber next season and raised expectations for demand. Cotton for delivery in July on ICE Futures U.S. were up 2.4% at 90.13 cents a pound after the monthly supply-and-demand report was released.

Crude-oil futures edged higher Wednesday after a weekly government report on U.S. oil inventories calmed trader concerns about rising supplies. Light, sweet crude for July delivery settled 50 cents, or 0.52%, higher, at $95.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe settled 53 cents higher, at $103.49 a barrel.

Meanwhile, a weaker U.S. dollar supported crude prices as it fell against a basket of currencies Wednesday. Gasoline futures turned lower Wednesday as stockpiles increased. Front-month July reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled 1.30 cents lower at $2.8101 a gallon. Stocks of distillate, which include heating oil and diesel, fell 1.2 million barrels, while analysts expected an increase of 1.3 million barrels. July ULSD heating oil settled 3.77 cents higher at $2.8952 a gallon.

Natural-gas futures rebounded Wednesday on bargain hunting after prices fell to three-month lows in the prior two days. Reduced demand is expected to be evident when the Energy Information Administration releases its weekly gas storage report at 10:30 a.m. EDT Thursday. Natural gas for July delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled up 5.3 cents, or 1.4%, at $3.777 per million British thermal units after prices dropped 10.4 cents over the past two days to the lowest levels since March 13.

Gold futures rallied Wednesday as the dollar retreated against the euro and the yen, burnishing the allure of dollar-denominated gold to foreign buyers. The most actively traded contract, for August delivery, rose $15, or 1.1%, to settle at $1,392 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Stocks fell on Wednesday, with the Dow tumbling more than 100 points on a wildly volatile day as traders extended a selloff driven by concern about the winding down of central banks' stimulus measures. The Dow finished 126 points lighter at 14995. Nasdaq lost 36, finishing at 3400. The S&P 500 slid 13 points to close at 1612.


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