Hog futures extended recent gains amid steadily rising wholesale pork prices. June hogs advanced 0.95 cent, or 1%, to 92.87 cents a pound, the highest closing price for the spot contract since August. All other contracts rose.
Live-cattle futures were mixed Thursday, lifted in the spot contract by another jump in wholesale beef prices to a new record high. June live-cattle futures rose 0.075 cent, or 0.1%, to $1.20075 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. August live-cattle prices slipped 0.15 cent, or 0.1%, to $1.1197 a pound. Other contracts were mixed. Feeder-cattle futures are lower. Most-active August feeder-cattle futures slipped 0.37 cent, or 0.3%, to $1.4492 a pound.
U.S. wheat futures settled mostly lower, declining for the second consecutive day amid technical selling and easing concerns about this year's U.S. production. July wheat futures ended down 6 cents, or 0.9%, at $6.87 3/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Kansas City Board of Trade July wheat dropped 8 1/4 cents, or 1.1%, to $7.43 1/2 a bushel. MGEX July wheat finished up 1/4 cent, or 0.03%, at $8.04 a bushel.
Soybean futures settled higher Thursday, with the spot July contract hitting a seven-week high on concerns about tight near-term supplies. Chicago Board of Trade soybeans for July delivery, the most actively traded contract, finished up 14 3/4 cents, or 1%, at $14.27 1/2 a bushel. The November soybean contract settled up 7 3/4 cents, or 0.6%, to $12.17 1/2. The tightness of available soybean stockpiles is reflected in near-record cash basis levels–the gap between cash prices for physical soybeans and futures–for this time of year.
Corn futures ended lower, pressured by expectations that this week's warm, dry weather in much of the Midwest is allowing farmers to make up for a slow start to the planting season. That eases concerns about a late-planted crop. Assuming favorable weather, U.S. farmers are expected to harvest a record corn crop this year, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture projecting ending stocks for the 2013-14 marketing year to expand to more than two billion bushels. CBOT corn for July delivery, the most actively traded contract, finished down 9 1/4 cents, or 1.4%, at $6.41 1/2 a bushel. The December contract settled down 7 3/4 cents, or 1.5%, to $5.24.
Cotton ticked 0.5% lower to 86.03 cents a pound.
Crude-oil futures prices settled higher Thursday, climbing on hopes for rising demand as the peak summer gasoline demand season approaches. Prices also were propped up early by weakness in the dollar after disappointing U.S. economic data, including a bigger-than-expected rise in new claims for jobless benefits and a sharp drop in housing construction. While the data suggest a sputtering recovery in the U.S. economy, which could keep limit demand growth in the world's biggest oil consumer, analyst said it was, conversely, sending bullish signals to the oil market. Light, sweet crude oil for June delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled 86 cents higher, at $95.16 a barrel. ICE North Sea Brent crude for June delivery expired 12 cents higher, at $103.80 a barrel. Reformulated gasoline for June delivery settled up 1.52 cents, at $2.8822 a gallon, but down from an earlier one-month intraday high. June heating oil settled 2.86 cents higher, at $2.9087 a gallon.
Natural gas futures tumbled more than 3% after a report showed a bigger-than-expected jump in U.S. gas stockpiles last week. Inventories of natural gas, used primarily for heating and electricity, rose 99 billion cubic feet last week, the Energy Information Administration said. The rise outpaced the 95-bcf expected by analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires, and suggested demand for gas-fired heating was weaker than projected last week, as milder temperatures overtook much of the U.S. Natural gas for June delivery settled 13.8 cents, or 3.4%, lower to $3.932 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold futures fell for a sixth consecutive session Thursday as an industry report and disclosure of scaled-back bets by some hedge funds pointed to investors' waning interest in the precious metal. The most actively traded contract, for June delivery, fell $9.30, or 0.7%, to settle at $1,386.90 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement price since April 17. Gold's retreat has erased almost all of the rebound that followed the record-setting selloff in mid-April. A drop below $1,360.60 an ounce at the close would put gold at its lowest level since February 2011.
Stocks barely budged on Thursday, with the Dow and S&P 500 hovering near record highs, as weak factory and labor market news was offset by data indicating inflation pressure remains tame despite aggressive monetary policy. The Dow ended at 15233, up 42. Nasdaq closed at 3465, up 6, and the S&P 500 gained only 8 to end at 1650.
At the 3 livestock auctions held Wednesday at Smithfield, Norwood and North Wilkesboro a total of 957 cattle and 68 goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended steady to $6.50 higher, feeder steers trended mixed, and heifers trended mostly $2.00 to $5.00 higher when compared to the previous week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $73.50 to $89.00. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $91.50 to $102.50 with high dressing up to $108.00. M&L 1-2 feeder steers, 400-500 lbs. brought $125.00 to $150.00, 500-600 lbs. brought $123.00 to $146.00. 400-500 lb. M&L 1-2 feeder heifers ranged $120.00 – $140.00 and 500-600 lbs. were $113.00 – $129.00.
N.C. BROILER-FRYERS: The market is steady and the live supply is adequate to meet the moderate demand. Average weights are mostly heavy. The estimated slaughter for Thursday in North Carolina is 2,870,000 head compared to 2,883,000 head last Thursday.
Greens: Demand is moderate. Market is about steady. Various containers, bunched/loose collard, mustard, and turnip tops 6.50-7.00. Kale type was 7.00-8.00, occasionally higher and lower.
Sweet potatoes: Demand is moderate. Market is about steady. 40 lb cartons Orange Types U.S. No. 1 13.00-15.00, few higher and lower. U.S. No. 1 Petite 10.00-12.00 few higher and lower. U.S. No. 2 7.00-9.00, few lower, occasionally higher. No Grade Marks jumbo 6.00-7.00, few higher and lower.
No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended 9 cents lower when compared to last report. Prices ranged $6.91-$7.31 at feed mills and $6.62-7.16 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 15 cents higher and were $15.07 at processors, and $14.13-$14.68 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat was 6 cents lower and was $5.38 at the elevators. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $484.90 per ton for 48% protein.