U.S. livestock: Hog futures halt skid on export data

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures closed higher on Thursday as bullish weekly export sales data and hopes for progress on a U.S.-China trade deal helped to snap a six-session sell-off, traders said.

February lean hog futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) settled up 0.675 cent at 67.45 cents/lb., rallying after a dip to 66.525 cents, the contract’s lowest since Sept. 10 (all figures US$).

Hog futures opened higher after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported weekly export sales of U.S. 2019 pork at 54,400 tonnes, including 5,200 tonnes to China, and another 36,400 tonnes sold for 2020, including 34,300 tonnes to China.

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“Strong pork export sales in this morning’s USDA report supported lean hog futures today, but the modest gains are really more of a technical bounce following recent losses,” Arlan Suderman, INTL FCStone’s chief commodities economist, wrote in a note to clients.

Hog futures later turned down but rallied to close higher.

Market bulls were encouraged by news that Chinese officials said Beijing was willing to work with the U.S. to resolve core trade concerns.

Hog futures had tumbled on Wednesday after Reuters reported that completion of a “phase one” U.S.-China trade deal could be delayed until next year, citing trade experts and people close to the White House.

“Pork is the most sensitive right now to the U.S.-China trade deal. It makes sense because that’s the market that has built in the most premium between the futures price and the cash,” said commodities broker Craig Turner at Daniels Trading.

CME live cattle futures drifted lower in rangebound trading as traders awaited Friday’s monthly USDA Cattle on Feed report.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expected the government to report the number of cattle placed in feedlots during October at 2.505 million head, up 11.4 per cent from a year ago.

CME February live cattle futures settled down 0.425 cent at 125.05 cents/lb., with front-month December edging up 0.025 cent at 119.325 cents.

CME January feeder cattle fell 1.475 cents to close at 142.6 cents/lb.

Reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago.

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