U.S. hog herd held almost steady despite feed cost spike

The U.S. hog herd in the latest quarter was nearly steady with year-ago levels, a U.S. government report showed Friday, surprising analysts who had expected a slight decline because of feed costs that soared to all-time highs last summer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s data showed the U.S. hog herd as of Dec. 1 at 100 per cent of a year ago, or 66.348 million head. Analysts, on average, expected 65.896 million head, or 99.3 per cent of a year earlier.

The U.S. breeding herd was also at 100 per cent year-over-year or 5.817 million head, compared with average trade expectations for a 0.7 per cent decrease.

And, the supply of market-ready hogs came in at 100 per cent at 60.531 million head. Analysts, on average, expected an 0.7 per cent decline or 60.134 million.

Hog futures at Chicago’s CME could open lower on Monday based on Friday’s report, said analysts.

But they said market losses before the data’s release have factored in some of the report’s negative implications.

Also, U.S. budget talks in Washington may have a big influence on the market Monday, when trading volume will be light ahead of the New Year’s holiday.

— Theopolis Waters writes for Reuters from Chicago.

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