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COMMODITIES : Supply Report Hurts Grain, Livestock Futures

From Associated Press

Most grain and livestock futures prices closed mostly lower Monday in response to supply figures released last week by the Agriculture Department.

On other markets, precious metals prices were mostly higher and most energy futures declined.

Analysts attributed the grain and soybean declines on the Chicago Board of Trade to the government report of higher-than-expected supplies of wheat, corn and soybeans.

Also weighing on prices were weekend rains in growing areas, said grains analyst Dale Gustafson of Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc.

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Prices regained some ground after soybean contracts fell under the psychologically-important $7-a-bushel level, said analyst Steve Freed of Dean Witter Reynolds Inc.

Wheat settled 4.75 cents to 7.50 cents higher, with the contract for delivery in May at $4.085 a bushel; corn was 2 cents to 9.5 cents lower, with May at $2.59 a bushel; oats were 1 cent higher to 10 cents lower, with May at $1.87 a bushel, and soybeans were 10 cents to 28.25 cents lower, with May at $7.10 a bushel.

Livestock and meat prices generally fell on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Only one contract, for April live hogs, managed to finish higher.

Friday’s report on the supply of hogs and pigs indicated no shortage of hogs at any time soon, said livestock analyst Chuck Levitt of Shearson Lehman Hutton Inc.

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Cattle futures also suffered from the government’s pork report, Levitt said.

He explained: “It showed competition from pork would be heavy.”

Record high prices at retail counters also has reduced consumer demand, Levitt said.

Cattle settled 0.67 cents to 1.47 cent lower, with the contract for delivery in April at 77.40 cents a pound; feeder cattle were 1.30 cents to 1.50 cents lower, with April at 79.80 cents a pound; live hogs were 0.12 cent higher to 1.38 cents lower, with April at 40.37 cents a pound, and frozen pork bellies were 0.75 cent to 2 cents lower, with May at 35.35 cents a pound.

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Precious Metals Rise

Prices for gold and silver futures were mostly higher on the Commodity Exchange in New York.

“The market showed little movement,” said William O’Neill, director of research for Elders Futures Inc., adding that prices were supported in late trading by the dollar being under pressure.

Gold settled 10 cents lower to $1.10 higher, with the contract for delivery in April at $386.20 an ounce; silver was 0.6 cent lower to 1 cent higher, with April at $5.788 an ounce.

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Most energy futures prices fell slightly on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Traders said they were nervous because the Coast Guard has reopened the Alaskan port of Valdez to 24-hour tanker traffic. It was closed because of the oil spill by an Exxon Corp. tanker March 24.

Crude oil settled 24 cents to 32 cents lower, with the contract for May at $19.95 a barrel; heating oil was 0.62 cent to 1.12 cents lower, with May at 52.50 cents a gallon, and unleaded gasoline ranged 0.39 cent lower to 0.88 cent higher, with May at 67.85 cents a gallon.


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