Lean-hog futures jumped 3% to a 3 1/2-week closing high Wednesday, as they benefitted from their discount to current cash prices and from fund-buying. Front-month futures settled at their highest close at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange since Oct. 12. The December contract finished up 2.52 cents, or 3.3%, to 80.10 cents a pound. That was a four-month high for that particular contract. February hog futures also gained, adding 2.52 cents, or 3%, to 85.95 cents a pound.
Live-cattle futures finished lower, pressured by weaker outside markets. The CME December live-cattle contract slid 0.72 cent, or 0.6%, to $1.2495 a pound. The February contract fell 0.52 cent, or 0.4%, to $1.2885 a pound. Feeder cattle were also down, with the November contract slipping 0.65 cent, or 0.5%, to $1.442 a pound.
U.S. wheat futures rose 1.9% to a one-month closing high Wednesday, buoyed by concerns about unfavorable weather for crops growing in the U.S. and abroad. Traders cited concerns ranging from dry weather in the central U.S. to too much rain in Europe and Argentina. "We've got serious problems with production in the Southern Hemisphere and potential problems in the Northern Hemisphere," said Louise Gartner, an analyst with brokerage Spectrum Commodities in Beavercreek, Ohio. Chicago Board of Trade December wheat futures settled up 17 cents at $8.94 a bushel. Kansas City Board of Trade December wheat settled up 12 cents, or 1.3%, at $9.31 1/2 a bushel. MGEX December wheat rose 11 3/4 cents, or 1.2%, at $9.59 3/4 a bushel.
US grain and soybean futures continue to trade mixed to begin open outcry trading. Wheat futures are higher, fueled by technical buying and worries about tighter world supplies. Corn prices get a boost from wheat, as well as firm cash prices. Meanwhile, soybeans continue to ease on profit-taking and expectations for USDA to raise US production forecasts Friday. CBOT Jan soy down 2 1/2c at $15.13/bushel; Dec corn up 7c at $7.48; Dec wheat 16c higher at $8.93.
At the livestock auction held Tuesday in Mount Airy a total of 637 cattle and 22 goats were sold. Slaughter cattle trended mostly steady. M&L 1-2 feeder cattle, 400-600 lbs., trended mixed. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $73.50-$80. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold from $88.50-$98. M&L 1-2 feeder steers, 500-
600 lbs. ranged $135-$136 and 500-600 lbs. were $128-$141.50. 400-500 lbs. M&L 1-2 feeder heifers ranged $124-$132 and 500-600 lbs. were $118-$129. M&L 1-2 feeder cows sold at $83-$85.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended steady to three cents higher when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.31-$8.19 at feed mills and $7.29-$7.74 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended eight to nine cents lower and were $14.93 at processors, and $14.42-$14.77 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat was not established. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants was $529.50 per ton for 48% protein.
Cotton futures fell to their lowest settlement since Oct 5 as market participants await the latest USDA supply/demand report, due Friday. "While season-to-date cotton exports are well ahead of this point last year, we remain concerned that outstanding sales are roughly one third lower than by this point last year," says INTL FCStone's Gary Raines. "What's more, China's recent decision to suspend cotton imports for the remainder of 2012 effectively squelches demand." ICE cotton for December delivery settled 0.4% lower at 69.83c/lb.
Crude-oil tumbled 4.8% as swelling fuel supplies and weak demand due to superstorm Sandy weighed on a market already pressured Wednesday by a broad post-election selloff. U.S. stockpiles of oil and gasoline jumped last week as Sandy's devastation derailed shipments of fuel into the East Coast and forced refineries to shut down, according to data released Wednesday by the Energy Department. Light, sweet-crude oil futures for December delivery settled $4.27 lower at $84.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest since July and the largest one-day drop in nearly a year. Brent crude oil on the ICE futures exchange dropped $4.25 to $106.82 a barrel. Front-month December reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled 11 cents, or 4.1%, lower at $2.5889 a gallon. December heating oil settled 3% lower at $2.9621 a gallon.
Natural gas futures retreated Wednesday, as traders looked past the winter storm sweeping the Northeast and looked ahead to the mild temperatures forecast for the rest of November, expected to temper demand for heat fueled by natural gas. The nor'easter hitting the Northeast Wednesday and Thursday was expected to bring rain, snow and low temperatures to major gas-consuming areas, likely boosting demand for the fuel in the coming days. But traders said the market's focus has already shifted to the outlook for warmer temperatures later this month, and the storm's impact was already factored into the prices. Natural gas for December delivery settled 3.9 cents, or 1.1%, lower at $3.578 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold futures were nearly flat Wednesday, as the initial boost from the results of the U.S. presidential election was outweighed by jitters about Europe. The most actively traded gold contract, for December delivery, fell $1, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,714.00 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Stocks are closing with their worst one-day loss of the year as investors look past the election and focus on big problems ahead in Washington and in Europe. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 313 points to end at 12,933 Wednesday, its worst day of 2012. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 34 points to 1,395 and the Nasdaq composite index gave up 75 points to 2,937. American voters returned a divided government to power and left investors worrying about tax increases and spending cuts that could stall the economy unless Congress acts. In Europe, leaders warned that unemployment could remain high for years.