U.S. livestock: Hog futures rally on improving export prospects

(Gloria Solano-Aguilar photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. hog futures jumped 3.5 per cent on Thursday, supported by signs that exports could pick up due to rising Chinese demand, traders said.

China bought 23,846 tonnes of U.S. pork last week, its biggest purchase in nearly two years, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed on Thursday. Chinese hog prices have surged after an outbreak of African swine fever.

Chinese buyers struck deals for the meat despite import tariffs of 62 per cent imposed by China on U.S. pork as a consequence of the trade war between the two countries.

Total export sales of pork for the week ended March 7 were 50,300 tonnes.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange April lean hogs gained 2.325 cents, to 65.8 cents per pound. June hogs rose 2.7 cent, to 83.525 cents (all figures US$).

Prices for the front-month contract failed to take out the three-month high hit on Wednesday.

The closely watched cash pork carcass cutout price was up 95 cents on Thursday at $68.80/cwt.

Cattle contracts also were firm.

CME April live cattle rose 0.725 cent, to 127.4 cents/lb. The June contract was up 1.025 cents at 120.35 cents.

Feeder cattle also were firmer, with April gaining 0.525 cent, to 144.65 cents per pound.

Wholesale beef prices were weaker. USDA quoted the choice cutout at $227.84/cwt on Thursday morning, down 40 cents from Wednesday afternoon. Select cuts fell three cents, to $219.25.

USDA said that export sales of beef for the week totaled 12,800 tonnes.

— Reporting for Reuters by Mark Weinraub in Chicago.

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