U.S. lean hog futures were higher Monday, with most contracts climbing for the fifth straight day with help from Friday's hogs and pigs report. CME lean hogs for August hit their highest price since mid-March, closing up 0.2 cent to 94.975 cents per pound. Friday's report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed a smaller-than-expected increase in the total size of the herd compared with a year ago. Views of the report ranged from neutral to mildly bullish.
U.S. cattle futures ended lower Monday amid worries about demand and sluggish beef prices. CME live cattle for August ended down 1.175 cents to $1.19275 a pound, while August feeder cattle closed down 1.8 cents to $1.4965. The market faced pressure from lackluster demand and beef prices, which were mixed Monday after falling Friday. Part of the negative demand outlook stems from the extreme heat gripping much of the U.S. The heat, which limits animal growth and also discourages grilling out, is a mixed influence, analysts said.
Wheat futures added strength with the possibility of dry weather conditions threatening crops in the Black Sea area, northern China and Australia. CBOT September wheat rose 15 1/4 cents, or 2%, to $7.72 1/2, September KCBT Wheat climbed 21 cents, or 2.8%, to $7.77, and MGEX September wheat settled up 18 1/4 cents, or 2.2%, at $8.62 3/4.
Soybean futures gained support from uncertainties surrounding the coming crop as well. Crops in the eastern and southern Midwest are under stress from heat and dryness, analysts said. The soybean market also drew support from a large, one million ton sale of U.S. soybeans to unknown destinations for delivery in the 2012-13 marketing year that begins Sept. 1. CBOT July soybeans rose 19 1/2 cents, or 1.3%, to $15.32 1/4 a bushel, and November soybeans ended up 10 1/4 cents, or 0.7%, at $14.38.
Cotton gained in thin trade that was just 60% of 2011's average daily volume as investors stay on the sidelines. "It may be prudent to give the cotton market some time and rope to see if there are hidden hooks it can use to pull itself up with over the next few days/weeks," says Knight Futures' Sharon Johnson in a note. The most actively traded ICE cotton contract for December delivery settled 1% higher at 72.02c/lb., a high since June 20.
Oil prices retreated Monday as the euphoria over last week's European Union plan faded and poor manufacturing data from the U.S. and China came into focus. Analysts said the price drop was probably inevitable after Friday's surprising surge, which saw oil prices leap 9.4%. The move was fueled by enthusiasm over European leaders agreeing to use bailout funds to directly aid Spanish and Italian banks. Light, sweet crude oil futures settled at down $1.21 at $83.75 a barrel for August delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Front-month reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled $2.619 a gallon, down 1.23 cents. Heating oil settled at $2.675 a gallon, down 3.5 cents.
Natural-gas futures ended unchanged Monday, recovering earlier losses driven by moderating weather forecasts. Natural gas for August delivery settled unchanged at $2.824 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold futures eased on Monday as investors weighed whether the European Union's latest crisis-fighting plan would soon ease the pressure on the bloc's banking system. The most actively traded gold contract, for August delivery, fell $6.50, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,597.70 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Wall Street closed mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 8 points to finish Monday at 12871. The Nasdaq and S&P Indexes were in the green, with the Nasdaq closing up 16 at 2951 and the S&P up 3 at 1365.