U.S. livestock: CME hogs limit down on U.S.-China trade jitters

(Gloria Solano-Aguilar photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures fell their daily limit on Monday, declining for a fifth straight session as an aggressive slaughter pace and uncertainty about this week’s U.S. trade talks with China overshadowed rising pork cut-out values, traders said.

The selloff came as U.S. and Chinese deputy trade negotiators launched a new round of talks aimed at resolving the two nations’ 15-month trade war, with neither side showing any signs of giving ground.

The White House confirmed that the high-level talks, involving Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would begin on Thursday.

Livestock traders seemed skeptical about prospects for a deal that could bolster U.S. pork sales to China, the world’s top consumer.

“It seems we get to this (point) each time, where the Chinese want to try to narrow the scope as far as different restrictions and policies, and the U.S. wants the scope to be wider. We can’t tell if we are going in a positive or negative direction,” Roose said.

Also bearish was the U.S. hog slaughter last week, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported at 2.669 million head, up from 2.5 million a year earlier.

“It’s just large numbers of hogs coming at us,” Roose said.

CME December lean hog futures settled down their daily three-cent limit at 64.25 cents/lb. (all figures US$). Limits for Tuesday’s trade will expand to 4.5 cents/lb., the CME Group said.

Chart-based selling accelerated as the December hog contract fell below its Sept. 20 low of 64.95 cents/lb. and slipped into a gap on the contract’s chart dating to Sept. 13.

“We left gaps in the market which technical traders are shooting for,” Roose said.

Nonetheless, market bulls noted that the U.S. pork cutout rose $2.58 on Monday, and cash hog prices in the closely watched Iowa and southern Minnesota market rose 34 cents.

CME live cattle futures closed mixed, with benchmark December firming on technical buying and carry-over from last week’s strength in the cash cattle market.

December live cattle futures closed up 0.425 cent at 111.2 cents/lb.

November feeder cattle futures closed down 0.45 cent at 140.925 cents/lb.

Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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