U.S. livestock: Lean hogs resume climb on robust demand

Cattle down ahead of USDA report

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures ended mostly higher on Friday, rebounding from sharp declines the previous day as strong pork demand and tight hog supplies extended the market’s recent advance.

Hog futures have soared in recent weeks, with April futures touching a 6-1/2 year front-month-contract high on Friday, as traders eyed strong domestic pork demand from restaurants that have been reopening from COVID-19 restrictions and as warmer weather has more people grilling outdoors.

Hog futures shrugged off news of tense talks between U.S. and Chinese officials this week amid forecasts for continued strong pork imports by the world’s top consumer.

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“Negative talks with China are a bit of a problem, but it’s obvious that China needs pork. The talks won’t get in the way of that,” said Craig VanDyke, analyst with Top Third Ag Marketing.

April lean hogs peaked at 95.725 cents/lb., a new contract high, but closed down 0.05 cent at 94.25 cents (all figures US$). Actively traded June futures rose 0.575 cent, to 100.6 cents.

CME live cattle futures ended lower on Friday as traders took positions ahead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s monthly Cattle on Feed report, due after the close.

USDA reported March 1 on-feed supplies at 102 per cent of a year ago, while February marketings and placements were both at 98 per cent of a year ago. The figures were all in line with market expectations.

Nearby live cattle futures were anchored by flat cash market prices, with Plains feedlot cattle trading largely steady around $114/cwt this week.

April live cattle fell 0.175 cent to 118.4 cents/lb., while actively traded June futures dropped 0.975 cent, to 118.675 cents. April feeder cattle declined two cents, to 139.425 cents/lb.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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