Market Recap: Grains Falter Ahead of USDA Planting Intentions Report
U.S. lean-hog futures fell Thursday, stumbling on stubbornly weak demand and excess supplies. April lean hogs fell 75 to 83.02, the May contract fell 147 to 91.75.
U.S. live cattle futures stumbled to their lowest level in 2 1/2 months, closing down Thursday amid weak demand and speculative selling. April live cattle was down 195 to $122, April feeders fell 170 to close at $151.
Grain and soybean futures ended sharply lower, pressured by technical selling and positioning ahead of key USDA inventory-and-planting reports due out later this morning. Corn hit a fresh two-month nadir, also due to concerns about a big US crop this year. Lower corn prices weighed on wheat, and soybeans fell as managed funds likely exited long positions before the data. Weak outside markets also weighed.
May corn closed down 16 1/4 at $6.04 and May wheat in Chicago slumped 18 1/4 to $6.12, May wheat in KC fell 16 to $6.54. Meanwhile, May soybeans slid 12 to $13.55 1/2, pushing soy meal down $2.70 to $375 and soy oil off 1.01 to 53.59.
ICE cotton futures ticked down, ending a six-session rally. May cotton fell 49 to 93.54, and the July contract dropped 20 to $93.73.
Gold futures eased for a third consecutive day on Thursday, as traders continued to cash out of the precious metal because of weak physical demand and disappointment that prices failed to hold their gains earlier this week. April gold fell $5.70 to $1,652.20, and May silver closed at $31.99, up 16.1 cents.
Oil futures slid to their lowest level in six weeks Thursday as a combination of factors put a pin in the market, from weakening supply-and-demand fundamentals to end-of-quarter profit-taking by asset managers. May crude fell $2.63 to $102.78 a barrel, April gasoline gained a fraction to $3.40 a gallon, April distillates fell 4.9 cents to $3.15 a gallon.
Natural-gas futures plunged 5.8% to a fresh 10-year low Thursday after the U.S. government reported a larger-than-expected increase in inventories, as demand remained weak in the face of surging production. May Natural gas dropped 13.3 cents to $2.14.
The broad S&P 500 ended in negative territory for the third session in a row as traders grappled with disappointing economic data and heavy losses in crude oil futures. The Dow waffled on either side of unchanged, finally finishing in the green, up 19 to close at 13,145, the Nasdaq closed at 3,095, down 9, and the S&P 500 dropped 2 to finish the day at 1,403.