Market Recap: Snowstorm in the Plains Push Cattle Futures Higher

U.S. lean-hog futures settled mostly higher, aided by sentiment that pork demand may soon be improving. April hogs shed 32 to 81.57, and May hogs gained 7 to 89.50. Other contracts were all higher.

U.S. live-cattle futures rose Tuesday to a nearly three-week high for the front-month contract, supported by a severe winter storm in cattle-feeding regions and slight gains in wholesale beef prices. February live-cattle added 32 to $127, April cattle futures gained 87 to $129.

At the livestock auction held Monday in Siler City, Turnersburg and Canton, a total of 1360 cattle and 21 goats were sold. Slaughter cattle trended steady to $2.00 lower. M&L 1-2 feeder steers, 400-600 lbs., trended mostly $1.00 to $6.00 lower. Average dressing slaughter cows brought $70-$86, with high dressing up to $93. Average dressing slaughter bulls, 1000 lbs. & up, sold from $85-$99, with high dressing $97.50-$108.

U.S. corn futures settled up at a two-week high Tuesday, as traders worried that demand for physical corn may be stronger than they had expected. Futures rose as signs emerged that recent price declines may have been overdone at a time of tight supplies. Wheat futures were pulled higher Tuesday by the gains in corn prices, since both grains are used in animal feed. Soybean futures fell slightly, pressured by expectations for large South American crops to replenish depleted global supplies over the next few months.

March Corn rose 11 1/2 to $7.05, March wheat in Chicago gained 6 1/2 to $7.05, March wheat in KC gained 1 ¼ to 7.32, and March soybean futures fell 3 1/2 to $14.47.

North Carolina’s egg prices trended steady on all sizes. Supplies are moderate. Retail demand is moderate. The North Carolina weighted average price for small lot sales of delivered, cartoned, grade “A” eggs was 126.14 for Extra Large, 123.04 for Large, 97.86 for Medium, and 83.00 for Small eggs.

US 2 Yellow Corn: was 11 to 12 cents higher. Prices were $7.25-$7.90 at the feed mills, and $7.30-$7.85 at the elevators. US 1 Yellow Soybeans: were 4 cents lower. Prices were $14.56 at the processors and $13.87-$14.28 at the elevators. Soybean Meal (f.o.b.) at the processing plants was $472.70 per ton for 48 percent protein.

Cotton futures rose Tuesday as buying on dips continued to support the market. Demand for cotton yarn in China continues to fuel buying, as Chinese mills import from other spinning countries in order to take advantage of quota-free imports and cheaper world prices. May cotton gained 11 to 81.83, and December new crop gained 31 to 82.82.

Gold futures snapped to a one-week high Tuesday as investors stepped in after the Federal Reserve chief indicated the central bank's bond-buying program would continue. April gold rose $28.90 to $1,615.50, April silver gained 27 cents to $29.27.

A slump in gasoline futures pulled U.S. crude-oil futures lower Tuesday, as traders kept watch for signs of increasing refinery operations as plants look to churn out more fuel in coming weeks. The decline in gasoline prices comes as oil traders continue to keep watch on the health of the broader economy, as well as nuclear talks in Iran that resumed Tuesday. April crude fell 48 cents to$92.63 a barrel, March gasoline fell 7.95 cents to $2.98 a gallon, and March distillates fell to $3.03 a gallon.

March natural-gas futures expired Tuesday at a one-month high, spurred by forecasts for widespread colder-than-normal temperatures in the eastern U.S. The incoming front-month April contract settled weaker, which analysts said was a sign of caution about prices climbing too high as the peak winter-demand season wanes. March natural-gas gained 1.3 cents to $3.42.

On Wall Street, stocks jumped on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured investors about the continuation of stimulus measures, bucking a downward trend in global equities and the euro on the uncertainty created by Italy's election. The Dow gained 115 to close at 13,900, the Nasdaq closed at 3,129, up 13 and the S&P 500 gained 9 to 1,496. 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.