U.S. livestock: Hogs hit 2-1/2-year high on packer demand

(Gloria Solano-Aguilar photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures surged to a 2-1/2-year high on Friday as recent gains in cash hog prices prompted investor buying in futures, traders and analysts said.

Rising wholesale pork values underscored strong meat demand and also bolstered futures while rising temperatures forecast next week could slow the rate of weight gain in hogs, limiting the supplies available to packers.

“The demand seems to be there,” said Rosenthal Collins Group broker James Burns. “Hogs have been coming in underweight consistently for a while now and we have some heat that’s coming to Iowa next week.”

Chicago Mercantile Exchange July hogs hit a peak of 90.85 cents/lb., the highest levels on a continuous chart since November 2014, before settling at 90.625 cents, up 1.15 cents (all figures US$).

Most-active CME August hogs rose by their daily trading limit of three cents to a contract high of 83.75. Trading limits will be expanded to 4.5 cents on Monday, according to the CME Group.

Futures remained discounted to the exchange’s index of the cash hog market, which reached 91.66 cents, also a roughly 2-1/2-year high.

The gains came a day after the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a quarterly report showed a record-large U.S. herd for the March-May quarter. However, record hog supplies this year have been met by robust demand.

Cattle mostly higher on technicals

CME June live cattle futures expired down 1.11 cents at 119.1 cents/lb. while most-active August live cattle eased 0.2 cent to 116.3 cents. However, most other deferred cattle contracts notched small gains.

CME August feeder cattle futures were up 0.75 cent to 147.925 cents/lb.

Technical short-covering and bear-spreading remained a theme in cattle trading as investors exited positions in nearby futures contracts. But recent declines in cash cattle prices and wholesale beef continued to limit the upside.

USDA said wholesale choice beef prices eased $1.82, to $224.73/cwt, and select cuts were down $1.74, to $208.42.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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