Cattle Higher on Grilling Hopes

Lean hog futures closed higher as hopes for the spring grilling season added to support from higher pork prices. April hog futures rose 0.37 cent, or 0.4%, to 87.67 cents a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME June hog futures rose 0.15 cent, or 0.2%, to 95.02 cents a pound.

U.S. live cattle futures closed higher Tuesday due to signs packers will soon need to buy fresh supplies, especially if the spring grilling season heats up in coming days. Cattle for April delivery closed up 0.97 cent, or 0.8% to $1.2772 a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. June cattle rose 0.9 cent, or 0.7%, to $1.248 a pound.

US wheat futures ended lower, pressured by ample global supplies and the rally in corn slowing. Concerns about greater competition in export markets from Black Sea region supplies also weigh, with Kansas City wheat showing the most weakness. May futures slid 1.2% to $6.87 1/2 a bushel while CBOT May fell 2 1/4c to $6.49 and MGEX May drops 8 1/2c to $8.11.

US soybean futures ended higher, challenging last week's highs amid firm world prices and the need for adequate US soy acres in 2012. The focus of the market is shifting to new crop planting, but concerns about additional cuts to South American crop size generating fresh export demand, and that helped rekindle bullish momentum, analysts say. Firm cash prices underpinned futures as well. Soy products climbed in unison with soybeans, with traders regaining bullish outlooks on technical buying, firm overseas prices and optimistic outlooks for demand, analysts say. CBOT May soybeans ended up 14 1/4c at $13.48 3/4/bushel, May soymeal rose $4.00 to $366.10/short ton, and May soyoil ended up 0.91c to 54.87 cents/lb.

Cotton futures closed almost even, buoyed by higher stocks and a better macroeconomic outlook. Futures have shed nearly all the gains made after India's cotton export ban was announced March 5, following the government's concession to allow the export of cotton shipments registered by March 4. "This will eliminate the need for the buyers of those bales to seek other suppliers and should weigh on the market," said Flanagan Trading's John Flanagan in a note. ICE cotton for May delivery settled 0.1% higher at 88.04c/lb.

U.S. crude oil futures settled modestly higher Tuesday, after the Federal Reserve's policy board signaled no change in its policy of keeping interest rates low. Light, sweet crude oil for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange were 37 cents higher, at $106.71 a barrel, the highest since March 5. April heating oil futures settled 2.83 cents higher, at $3.2712 a gallon, the most since March 1. April reformulated gasoline blendstock futures settled 3.16 cent higher, at $3.3546 a gallon, the most since May 10, 2011.

Natural gas futures tested a new intraday low Tuesday but rallied and finished in the black. Natural gas for April delivery settled up 3 cents, or 1.3%, at $2.299 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures sold off early in the session and remained negative most of the day, but began to bounce back in the early afternoon.

Gold futures dropped in after-hours trading Tuesday after some big U.S. banks said they passed Federal Reserve stress tests, prompting the Fed to release its results two days early. The most actively traded contract, for April delivery, shed $5.60, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,694.20 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. By 4:36 p.m. EDT, the contract was down $28, or 1.7%, at $1,671.80. 

It was a bullish day on Wall Street, stocks buoyed by strong retail sales data. The Dow jumped almost 218 to close Tuesday at 13177. Nasdaq rose 56 points to 3039. The S&P 500 climbed 24 to 1395. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.