U.S. livestock: Lean hogs drift lower on weak cash values

CME February 2019 lean hogs, with 20-day moving average. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures closed mostly lower on Tuesday, with the benchmark February contract falling for the fourth session out of the last five after hitting a contract high last week.

“The cash market continues to struggle. It’s a battle between reality and the ASF (African swine fever) headlines,” said Craig VanDyke, analyst with Top Third Ag Marketing.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange February lean hog futures settled down 0.5 cent at 65.05 cents/lb., although the spot December contract ended up 0.475 cent at 57.875 cents (all figures US$).

Lean hog futures have drawn support at times from ideas that African swine fever in China’s huge hog herd might boost demand for U.S. pork. The disease has spread through China, with more than 70 cases reported across farms since early August.

“Then we remember where the (U.S.) cash (market) is at, what product is doing, and how our supply situation sits, without any material evidence of China actually buying our stuff,” VanDyke said.

Prices have declined five days in a row in the closely watched Iowa and southern Minnesota cash hog market, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed.

CME live cattle futures closed modestly lower Tuesday and feeder cattle futures followed the weak trend.

CME February live cattle futures settled down 0.05 cent at 120.6 cents/lb., staying inside the previous day’s trading range.

January feeder cattle ended down 0.725 cent at 148.425 cents.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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