Soybeans led the grain market lower Friday, with July contract settling 24 cents lower at $13.37 per bushel. Weather concerns continue to pull the strings in the grain pit. Recent thunderstorms in the U.S. Midwest have closed the door on some corn plantings, creating speculation that extra soybeans will be planted instead. 

Strong thunder storms are expected to develop across Nebraska and pass thru much of the western corn-belt. The eastern corn-belt is also bracing for strong thunderstorms bringing rain and ending any planting prospects. 

Rice closed lower for the second straight session, with the July contract settled 14 cents lower at $24.18 per hundredweight. Profit-taking, after rice reached an all-time high Wednesday, was noted for today's decline. Rice futures have more than doubled in the past year. 

Global trade in rice is projected to fall 7-percent in 2008 to 27.6 million metric tons due tighter supplies, the International Grains Council said in a report on Friday. 

Wheat continued to decline Friday, with the July contract settling 8 1/2 cents lower at $8.15 1/2 per bushel. Speculation that the USDA crop progress report will bump up the good-to-excellent wheat category, due to beneficial weather, has kept many wheat bears busy. 

May corn settled one cent higher at $5.77 1/4 a bushel, July soy-meal settled $4.80 lower at $345 per short ton, and July soy-oil settled 122 points lower to 59.65 cents per pound. 



Orange juice closed 4-percent higher, with the July contract settling 450 points higher at $1.2030 a pound. The seasonal hurricane premium is currently acting as short-term floor in the orange juice market, as previous hurricanes have severely damaged Florida's crop.

Longer term, weak demand continues to weigh on orange juice. Last Wednesday, the USDA raised the Florida 2007-08 orange production estimate by 1.5 million 90-pound boxes to total 168.5 million boxes. Futures have declined 17 percent this year. 

July cotton settled 69 points lower at 71.44 cents a pound, May coffee settled 30 points lower at $1.3045 a pound, July sugar settled 4 points lower at 12.25 cents a pound, and July cocoa settled $11 lower at $2,788 a metric ton. 


Cattle futures settled higher, with April live cattle closing 2 points higher at 92.27 cents a pound. Rising cash prices with stronger demand continues to push the cattle market higher. May feeder cattle settled 72 points higher at 107.75 cents a pound.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's mid-day boxed-beef wire reported choice cuts fell .58 cents a pound and select items were .36 cents a pound lower. 

Hog futures closed higher on the session with June lean hogs settling 135 points higher at 76.35 cents a pound and May pork bellies settled 50 points lower at 77.10 cents. 


Crude oil closed 2-percent higher, with the May contract settling $2.46 higher at $118.52 a barrel. Geopolitical continues to influence crude oil prices .

A cargo ship on contract with the U.S. military fired warning shots at suspected Iranian gun boats Friday. Iran's Mehr News Agency denied this altercation by stating that American forces have likely shot at a non-military or fishing boat, and even then one cannot be certain that it was Iranian. 

Nigeria, Africa's leading oil producer, is losing about 50 percent of its current oil production because the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta MEND has stepped up attacks on pipelines in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta. 

May gasoline settled 3.51 cents higher at $3.0537 a gallon, May heating oil settled 4.45 cents higher at $3.3028 a gallon, and May natural gas settled 17.3 cents higher at $10.963 per 1,000 cubic feet. 


Gold closed slightly higher Friday, with the June contract settling 30 cents higher at $889.70 an ounce. Spill-over strength from climbing energy prices sent gold slightly higher in the face of U.S. dollar strength. 

May silver settled 19 cents higher at $16.85 an ounce, July platinum settled $2.70 lower at $1,968 an ounce, June palladium settled $2.70 higher at $448.95 an ounce, and May copper settled 4 cents higher to end at $3.92 a pound.

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