Hog Futures Tumble on Drought Fears

CME lean-hog futures fell sharply as fears of a rise in coming supplies, amplified by drought and high feed costs, sparked profit-taking. Aug hogs fell 1.7% to 92.95c/lb and most-active Oct hogs dropped 2% to 80.3c/lb. Producers continue to sell off female hogs they'd normally keep for breeding. Feeder cattle ticked upward after a sell-off in corn futures, since cheaper feed can under-pin demand. Aug feeders up 0.3% to $1.3862/lb. Live cattle moved lower, pressured by their premium to cash prices and lackluster demand from processors. Aug cattle closed down 0.7% to $1.1887/lb. Most-active Oct down 1.1% to $1.244/lb.

U.S. wheat futures are traded lower Tuesday morning, pressured by weakness in corn prices and the potential for a strong spring-wheat harvest. In electronic trading, Chicago Board of Trade futures for September delivery are down 6 1/2 cents at $9.08 a bushel. Kansas City Board of Trade September wheat is down 5 1/4 cents at $9.11 3/4 a bushel. MGEX September wheat is down 6 3/4 cents at $9.70 a bushel.

US soybean futures flit on both sides of flat, then shifted lower into the session's end. Soybean crop was threatened by continued drought as it enters key growing period in August, but futures are pressured by profit-taking, a wetter midday weather forecast and investor caution as the Fed holds a policy meeting with results due tomorrow. Corn and wheat futures continue trading lower into the close, pressured by higher US spring-wheat condition ratings. With trading over but prices yet to settle, CBOT Aug soybeans were down 7c at $17.18 3/4 a bushel. Sep corn down 13 1/2c at $8.06 1/2, and CBOT Sep wheat down 23 1/4c at $8.91 1/4.

Cotton futures ticked higher, buoyed by a weaker dollar and worsening drought conditions in the fiber's growing regions. "On the (USDA's) crop condition report you can clearly see that Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and even California and Arizona–all the states in what would be the western cotton belt–that crop conditions came down over the past week," says INTL FCStone's Andy Ryan. "Cotton really doesn't mind hot and dry, but it's getting extreme now." The most-active ICE cotton contract, for December delivery, settled 0.3% higher at 71.34c/pound in thin volume.

Crude-oil futures prices settled 1.9% lower Tuesday as investors adjusted positions ahead of a scheduled Wednesday statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy-making board. Prices rallied nearly $2 a barrel over four days last week, and re-summitted at the $90-a-barrel level on expectations that the Fed was preparing to move soon with a fresh stimulus package to jolt the U.S. economy. Nymex September-delivery crude oil settled down 1.9%, or $1.72 a barrel, at $88.06 a barrel. The two-day drop more than erased last week's gains, putting crude back to its lowest settlement price since July 13. August heating oil expired down 1.3%, or 3.74 cents, at $2.8417 a gallon, a one-week low. The September-delivery contract settled down 1.2%, or 3.34 cents lower, at $2.848 a gallon. August RBOB gasoline futures expired 0.8% or 2.22 cents lower, at $2.9146 a gallon. September RBOB settled down 4.41 cents at $2.7743 a gallon.

Natural-gas futures pulled back from a fresh 2012 intraday high after the Energy Information Administration released data showing that natural-gas output rose in May, disappointing many in the market. Natural gas for September delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled down 0.5 cent, or 0.2%, at $3.209 a million British thermal units.

Gold futures fell for the first time in five trading sessions on Tuesday, as investors pared their bets on higher gold prices ahead of closely watched policy announcements from the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank. The most actively traded gold contract, for December delivery, fell $9.40, or 0.6%, to settle at $1,614.60 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Wall Street closed in the red Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 64 points to close at 13008. The Nasdaq dropped 6 to 2939. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell almost 6 points to finish the day at 1379.

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