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Markets For Thursday December 31

U.S. cattle futures bounced back from an early week dip Wednesday as a rally in the wholesale beef market renewed hopes about strengthening demand, after profit-taking capped gains earlier in the week.
December live-cattle futures picked up 2.8 cents, to $1.33 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a nearly two-month closing high. Cattle futures for February rose 1.2 cents to $1.36 a pound. Feeder-cattle futures for January picked up 3.47 cent to $1.65 a pound.
Strengthening demand for cattle in the cash markets and severe snowstorms in the past week have sent cattle futures off multiyear lows, with prices climbing sharply during last week’s shortened, lighter-volume holiday trading. Profit-taking curbed fresh buying early in the week, but a surge in beef purchases has revived expectations for cattle prices to get a boost from retail demand in the month ahead.
Hog futures also climbed, lifted by buying across the livestock markets. February hog futures rose 0.62 cent to 59.77 cents a pound. April hogs advanced 0.15 cent to 66.02 cents a pound.


U.S corn futures finished lower Wednesday, with pressure coming from outside markets and concerns that cheaper South American grain would begin competing more heavily with U.S. supplies.
Wheat was lower and soybeans were higher.
Corn futures settled lower, weighed down in part by a rise in the dollar that makes U.S. supplies less affordable for foreign buyers.
Also, Argentina’s relaxation of its export restrictions is spurring concerns about more Argentine supplies coming onto the world market and competing with U.S. supplies, pressuring prices.
With world supplies remaining ample overall, analysts expect downward pressure to limit any upward moves in corn prices.
Chicago Board of Trade corn futures for March delivery shed 3 1/2 cents, to $3.59 a bushel.
Wheat futures finished lower after trading higher early in the session on concerns that unfavorable weather in some parts of the world hamper the crop. CBOT March wheat closed down 6 cents, at $4.69 3/4 a bushel.
Soybean futures were higher, with CBOT January soybeans up 5 1/2 cents, at $8.75 1/2 a bushel.

Oil and gas stocks are leading another decline in U.S. indexes after energy prices dropped again.

Marathon Oil sank 5 percent Wednesday and Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas producer, lost 4 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 117 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,603.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 15 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,063. The Nasdaq composite declined 42 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,065.

The price of oil fell 3 percent to just under $37 a barrel. Oil is down almost 40 percent this year.

Pep Boys dropped 3 percent after Bridgestone said it wouldn’t counter the latest offer for the company from activist investor Carl Icahn.

Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.30 percent.