Wheat Futures Gain on Fewer Projected Acres

Cattle futures climbed to the highest levels in nearly four months Thursday on hopes that producers will fetch higher prices in the cash markets in the days ahead.

February live-cattle futures rose 90 to $137, the highest closing price for a front-month contract since Nov. 3. Cattle futures for April picked up 120 to $137, Feeder-cattle futures for March advanced 115 to $159.

Hog futures, meanwhile, slipped on profit-taking after climbing sharply higher on Wednesday. April hog futures slid 35 to 71.12, May hogs dropped 12 to 77.10.  Other contracts were narrowly lower.

Corn and soybean futures sank to fresh lows Thursday amid intense competition for export demand and new government estimates for crop planting this year. Wheat rose.

Soybeans fell to a three-month low, buffeted by the progressing South American harvest, where farmers are reporting better-than-expected crop yields and new supplies are filling the world’s pipelines. Corn fell to a more than six-week low, sliding after the government projected U.S. farmers likely will boost corn acreage this year by 2.3%.  And wheat recovered somewhat after falling to a nearly six-year low in the previous session, buoyed in part by USDA projections that farmers would sew 6.7% fewer acres of the grain in 2016 than a year earlier, bringing total wheat acreage down to 51 million.

March Soybeans fell 8 1/2 to $8.59, March corn dropped 4 1/4 to $3.55, March Chicago wheat added 2 1/2 to $4.45, and March KC wheat gained 3 ½ to $4.46.

Cotton futures inched higher on Thursday with the May contract gaining 35 to 57.76, and the July contract gaining 27 to 57.61.

Gold futures edged down Thursday in a seesawing session as stock markets regained strength from a sudden rally in oil prices.  April gold fell $2.10 to $1,237.00, and March silver closed at $15.17, down 13 cents.

Oil futures shook off losses Thursday and turned positive after Venezuela’s oil minister said in a televised interview that his country would meet with representatives from Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to discuss efforts to stabilize oil markets.  April crude gained 87 cents to $33.02 a barrel, March gasoline gained 3 cents to $1.04 a gallon, and March diesel gained 1 cent to $1.06 a gallon.

Natural gas sold off sharply Thursday, touching a new 17-year low, as weekly U.S. data showed supplies falling far less than expected and underscoring robust production and weak gas-fired heating demand at the tail-end of a mild U.S. winter. March delivery contract ended the day down 7 cents at $1.71.

Stocks on Wall Street posted solid gains on Thursday as higher oil prices reduced fears that banks could be hit by debt defaults and investors saw opportunities after weeks of volatility.  The Dow gained 212 to 16,697, the Nasdaq closed at 4,582, up 39 and the S&P 500 gained 21 to 1,951.

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.