Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures surged on Friday and the three most active contracts closed up their daily trading limit on rising concerns about the spread of African swine fever in China, traders said.
Technical buying accelerated gains, lifting several deferred-month contracts to life-of-contract highs.
“African swine fever fears are in the market again,” said Doug Houghton, analyst with Brock Associates Inc. “China found an outbreak in Sichuan, which is their largest pork-producing province, and also they found it in a wild boar. It just looks like it’s getting worse.”
The virus has been confirmed in more than 60 locations in 18 provinces over the past three months despite government efforts to curb its spread.
Hogs were also propelled higher by hopes for a thaw in tense trade relations between the U.S. and China, the world’s top pork consumer, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he may not impose more tariffs on Chinese goods.
Beijing slapped tariffs on U.S. pork in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, effectively halting exports to China.
CME December hogs settled at 60.075 cents/lb. and February closed at 66.75 cents, both up their daily three-cent limit and above all major moving averages (all figures US$). April futures also closed limit-up, and the June 2019 through October 2019 contracts all posted new highs.
Trading limits will expand on Monday to 4.5 cents after the limit-up close, the exchange said.
Live cattle futures ended mixed, with nearby contracts lifted by spillover support from rallying hogs.
News that officials in Japan, the top beef importer, are discussing lifting restrictions on U.S. beef from cattle older that 30 months remained supportive for cattle, traders said.
Light cash cattle trade at U.S. Plains feedlot markets at mostly $114/cwt, steady with last week, also underpinned nearby futures.
CME December live cattle ended 0.2 cent higher at 115.35 cents/lb., while February futures, the most active month, rose 0.625 cent to 119.725 cents.
Traders are looking ahead to next week’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Cattle on Feed report, which is expected to show Nov. 1 on-feed supplies at 104.4 per cent of a year ago.
Feeder cattle futures ended lower in a profit-taking dip after strong gains earlier this week.
Actively traded January feeder cattle ended 1.325 cents lower at 146.525 cents/lb., while March fell 0.575 cent to 143.975 cents.
— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.