Market Recap: Livestock Futures Continue to Wilt in Summer Heat

The summer is becoming a bad one for livestock futures, which are wilting under the effects of spreading drought conditions. The weeks-long rash of hot weather and little rain is damaging crops, driving up feed costs and depressing consumer demand for meat just as more stressed animals are coming to market.

Lean-hog futures also fell sharply Tuesday as farmers are selling off more animals than previously expected to limit mouths to feed even as pork demand remains weak.

August hogs closed down 47 at 89.95, October hogs, the most actively traded, shed 152 to 77.67
Live cattle for August delivery closed down 132 at $115, Feeder-cattle continue to be the worst losers with August feeders closing Tuesday down 180 at $134.

US grain and soybean futures turned lower by the close as rains poised to move into the Midwest triggered some profit-taking. The driest areas of the Corn Belt have a chance for scattered showers at midweek, and the pattern is seen continuing through the next 6-10 days. The forecast took some edge off futures, with traders concerned about further pushing prices already near historic highs. December corn fell 4 to $7.68, November soy dropped 6 1/2 to $15.84, September wheat in Chicago lost 7 1/2 to $8.77 and September wheat in KC gained 8 ½ to $8.93.

Cotton futures tumbled following a weekly USDA crop progress report that showed the condition of the planted fiber at the same level as the previous week, thanks to light rains in growing areas. Near month October cotton fell 219 to 70.11, and new crop December lost 225 to close at $71.05.

Gold recouped nearly all of the session's losses and ended nearly flat as initial investor disappointment in Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments to the Senate Banking Committee faded. August fell $2.10 to $1,589.50 an ounce, and September silver closed at $27.31, down 5 cents.

The oil market Tuesday put a smiling face on testimony by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and bid up oil prices by 0.9% on stronger oil demand and expectations of additional quantitative easing. August crude closed Tuesday at $89.22 a barrel, up 79 cents, Front-month gasoline dropped a fraction to $2.84 a gallon, and near month distillates finished at $2.84 a gallon, up 1.45 cents.

Natural-gas futures prices slipped to a one-week low Tuesday, amid forecasts calling for moderating temperatures in coming days in some parts of the nation. August Natural-gas fell a fraction to $2.79.

On Wall Street, world stocks and oil prices rose in choppy trade on Tuesday after a gloomy economic outlook by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke kept alive views that the U.S. central bank may take further steps to stimulate growth. The Dow gained 78 to close at 12,805, the Nasdaq closed at 2,910, up 13, and the S&P 500 gained 10 to finish the day at 1,363. 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.