U.S. livestock: Lean hog, live cattle futures fall on plant shutdowns

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. hog and live cattle futures eased on Wednesday, with the cash market for the animals weak as processing plants were forced to shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, traders said.

Tyson Foods will indefinitely suspend operations at its largest U.S. pork plant to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the company said on Wednesday.

Brazil’s JBS and WH Group’s Smithfield Foods also have shut U.S. plants due to the global pandemic. Combined, the closures remove about 15 per cent of U.S. pork production.

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“We simply do not know whether the situation will be improved or worse two weeks from now,” INTL FCStone said in a note to clients.

Lean hog futures for June delivery fell 0.2 cent, to 47.9 cents/lb., at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (all figures US$).

CME June live cattle fell 0.15 cent, to 83.925 cents/lb.

August feeder cattle futures rose 0.3 cent to 127.2 cents/lb.

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Wednesday afternoon said that frozen pork supplies as of March 31 were down four per cent from the previous month but up two per cent from last year. Frozen beef supplies were two per cent higher from the end of February and up 11 per cent from a year ago.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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