U.S. livestock: Lean hogs down off recent gains

April live cattle end up off five-week low

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

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures dropped 2.7 per cent on Tuesday as the market retreated from recent surges.

Profit-taking has weighed on prices since most-active April hog futures reached a life-of-contract high on Thursday.

Still, traders said robust Chinese demand for pork imports is underpinning the futures market. Traders are set to get their next look at weekly U.S. export sales data from the Department of Agriculture on Thursday.

China, the world’s top pork consumer, has increased meat imports since the deadly hog disease African swine fever began devastating its pig herd in summer 2018.

CME April lean hog futures sank 2.375 cents to 85.35 cents/lb., after reaching the life-of-contract high of 90.675 cents/lb. on Thursday (all figures US$).

In the beef market, CME April live cattle futures ended up 0.45 cent to 119.425 cents/lb., after earlier falling to 118.575 cents, the lowest price since Jan. 21.

April live cattle hit a life-of-contract high of 126.7 cents on Feb. 16 amid strong domestic and export demand for U.S. beef.

CME April feeder cattle futures slid 0.65 cent to 140.475 cents/lb.

Choice cuts of boxed beef on Tuesday dropped by $4.35, to $234.68/cwt, while select cuts fell by $1.47, to $226.17/cwt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Meatpackers slaughtered an estimated 123,000 cattle and 497,000 hogs, USDA said.

Some U.S. meatpacking workers are receiving COVID-19 vaccines after outbreaks of the coronavirus idled slaughterhouses last year and infected thousands of plant employees. Meat companies and unions say the progress needs to move faster.

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

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