U.S. livestock: Supplies, trade nerves keep CME hogs on defensive

(Gloria Solano-Aguilar photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures finished mostly lower for a fourth straight session on Monday, pressured by seasonal supply buildup and continued worries about potential trade disputes, said traders.

Any trade war with the U.S. will only bring disaster to the world economy, China’s commerce minister said on Sunday.

The U.S. exports about 25 per cent of the pork it produces. China is the U.S. pork sector’s No. 3 market, according to industry experts.

April hogs closed down 0.175 cent/lb. at 67.675 cents, and May finished 0.775 cent lower at 71.225 cents (all figures US$).

Hogs will become more readily available to packers as moderating temperatures this time of year in the Midwest allow pigs to put on weight faster, a trader said.

The April lean hog contract is in line with the exchange’s March 8 hog index of 67.52 cents, but some worry that price premiums in the deferred months may be unjustified due to supply issues, the trader added.

Pork demand should pick up as retailers wrap up Easter holiday ham purchases and spring grilling season approaches, he said.

Live cattle turn lower

CME live cattle futures reversed some of Friday’s gains, undercut by fund selling and uneasiness about a looming supply increase, said traders and analysts.

April led losers after funds in CME’s livestock markets sold, or “rolled,” that trading month’s long positions mostly into the June contract tied to the Standard + Poor’s Goldman Sachs Commodity Index.

Monday was the fourth of five sessions for the roll process.

April live cattle closed 1.575 cents/lb. lower at 121.55 cents, and below the 10-day moving average of 122.860 cents. June finished 1.025 cents lower at 113.275 cents.

Investors await the sale of slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains that last week traded from mainly $126-$128/cwt. The bulk of cash cattle the week before fetched $126.

Increased packer profits and brisk wholesale beef demand supported last week’s cash prices that this week could face challenges.

“Bigger production is coming at the market,” said U.S. Commodities analyst Jason Roose. Cash prices were recently underpinned by dry conditions in the southern Plains and solid wholesale beef demand, he said.

CME feeder cattle followed live cattle futures lower.

March feeders ended down 0.35 cent/lb. at 142.175 cents.

Reporting for Reuters by Theopolis Waters in Chicago.

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