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Market Recap: Processing Plant Closure Scuttles Cattle Futures

U.S. lean hog futures are traded mixed Friday, as traders weigh the issue of cooling cattle futures with a tightening supply outlook for hogs and steady pork demand. February hog futures fell 6 to 85.35, the April contract, however, was flat with Thursday's close at 88.07
U.S. live-cattle futures extended their losses Friday amid expectations that the idling of a major beef plant will put downward pressure on cash prices for cattle. February live-cattle dropped into the close, falling 165 to $124, a two-month low for the front-month, and a nine-month low in the life of the February contract, April cattle fell 105 to $129.

At the livestock auction held Thursday at Smithfield a total of 433 cattle and no goats were sold. Slaughter cows trended mixed, feeder steers trended $1.00 to $32.00 lower, and heifers trended $14.00 to $20.00 lower when compared to the sale last week. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $65.50 to $72.00. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold at $80.00 to $90.00 with high dressing up to $96.00.

U.S. wheat futures rallied to a fresh three-week high Friday, driven by crop production worries for the winter wheat crop. Traders are concerned about threats to U.S. wheat production. Intense drought conditions in the southern Plains could prevent normal development of hard, red winter wheat crops there. Worries about weather are keeping a near-term uptrend in prices in place. Corn futures rose with wheat, latching on to improved demand expectations in the face of tight U.S. supplies. Soybean futures stumbled Friday. Traders continued to book profits from recent gains in an effort to curb risk ahead of an extended holiday weekend.

March wheat in Chicago ended up 10 at $7.91, Kansas City Board of Trade March wheat rose 6 3/4 to $8.43, March corn ended up 3 to $7.27, March soybeans finished down 1 at $14.29.

The N.C. egg market is steady on small, higher on the balance. Supplies are moderate. Retail demand is good. Weighted average prices for small lot sales of Grade A eggs delivered to nearby retail outlets: Extra Large 139.82, Large 139.05, Medium 113.30 and Small 102.00.

No. 2 yellow shelled corn trended mixed when compared to last report. Prices ranged $7.41-$7.98 at feed mills and $7.38-7.87 at elevators. No. 1 yellow soybeans trended 1 cent lower and were $14.34 at processors, and $13.49-$14.14 at elevators. No. 2 red winter wheat had no trend available. Soybean meal, f.o.b. at processing plants, was $459.40 per ton for 48% protein.

Cotton advanced as speculative buying continued Friday, with futures settling just shy of a seven-month high after a private forecaster reduced its expectations for U.S. acreage this season. The cotton market remains buoyed by the idea import demand from China will be robust in the coming months, due to a lack of interest from mills in Beijing's reserve stockpile auctions. March cotton gained 82 to 78.60, the May contract gained 48 to 78.67.

Gold eased Friday as traders cashed out ahead of the long weekend following Thursday's one-month high. February gold fell $3.80 to $1,687, March Silver rose $1.72 to $32.00 an ounce.

U.S. crude-oil futures danced around the break-even point Friday as traders weighed optimistic Chinese economic data and a bullish monthly oil report against persistent weak U.S. oil demand. Supporting oil prices Friday were expectations that an expanding Chinese economy would translate into more crude demand. The world's No. 2 crude-oil consumer reported a fourth-quarter growth rate of 7.9%, up from 7.4% in the previous quarter. February crude gained 7 cents to $95.56 a barrel, February gasoline gained 2.84 cents to $2.76 a gallon, and February distillates gained 3.13 cents to $3.05 a gallon.

Natural-gas futures prices climbed on Friday to a fresh six-week high fueled by expectations of continued strong short-term demand for gas-fired heating in the key Northeast U.S. market. February natural gas jumped 7.2 cents to $3.56.

The Dow and S&P 500 closed at five-year highs on Friday as the market registered a third straight week of gains on a solid start to the quarterly earnings season. The Dow gained 53 to finish the week at 13,649, the Nasdaq dropped 1 ¼ to 3,132, and the S&P 500 gained 5 to 1,485. 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.