U.S. livestock: Pork export sales rise, profit-taking hits hog futures

Cattle futures down while beef exports up

CME April 2021 lean hogs with 20-, 50- and 100-day moving averages. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures ended lower on Thursday as profit-taking overshadowed strong U.S. export demand, analysts said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in a weekly report, said weekly net U.S. pork export sales were 59,600 tonnes for 2021, up 68 per cent from the prior four-week average.

Weekly export sales to China were 28,020 tonnes in the week ended on Feb. 25, a five-month high for sales in the current marketing year, according to USDA data.

China, the world’s top pork consumer, has increased meat imports after its hog herd was devastated by the fatal pig disease African swine fever, first detected in the country in August 2018.

Recently China has been trying to rebuild its herd, the world’s largest, but there is growing concern a severe wave of disease has hit pigs.

Solid export demand last week helped lift CME April lean hog futures to a life-of-contract high of 90.675 cents, opening the door for a correction in the market this week, brokers said (all figures US$).

April lean hog futures ended down 0.625 cent at 87.3 cents/lb. on Thursday.

“They’re already at pretty lofty levels,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist for broker StoneX.

USDA said net export sales of U.S. beef were 22,600 tonnes for 2021, up 15 per cent from the prior four-week average.

CME April live cattle futures finished down 0.85 cent at 118.55 cents/lb., extending a setback from a life-of-contract high of 126.7 cents on Feb. 16.

April feeder cattle futures sank 2.325 cents to 138.985 cents/lb.

Prices for choice cuts of boxed beef rose by 85 cents, to $233.88/cwt, while select cuts slid by $2.56, to $221.68/cwt, according to USDA.

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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