U.S. livestock: Lean hogs up on trade hopes, falling corn prices

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) lean hog futures rose on Monday on a mix of technical buying, falling corn prices and muted optimism about the weekend resumption of U.S.-China trade negotiations, traders said.

“Lean hog futures (received) support from hopes of more Chinese buying after weekend talks went well,” INTL FCStone chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman wrote in a client note.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in a meeting on Saturday at a Group of 20 summit in Japan to restart trade talks after the last major round of negotiations collapsed in May.

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Trump on Monday said that talks with China were underway by phone.

However, some livestock traders were skeptical about prospects for a deal with China, the world’s top pork consumer.

“To me, it’s another fruitless trade war headline. We’ve seen this song and dance before,” said Craig VanDyke of Top Third Ag Marketing.

Apart from the weekend trade news, CME lean hog futures seemed due for a rebound after falling in May and June, VanDyke noted.

“They beat us pretty hard the last quarter. Maybe some money coming back in here for the third quarter has boosted the back-month contracts,” VanDyke said.

CME July lean hogs rose 0.475 cent to settle at 72.575 cents/lb., while the most-active August jumped 2.7 cents, to 78.7 cents/lb. (all figures US$).

Live cattle futures closed mixed on Monday, while feeder cattle climbed in response to sharply lower prices for corn, the main livestock feed grain.

Actively traded CME August live cattle ended down 0.25 cent at 104.2 cents/lb., but back months ended higher.

CME August feeder cattle settled up 0.175 cent at 137.025 cents/lb. after Chicago Board of Trade corn futures fell about two per cent on improved U.S. crop weather and carry-over selling after the USDA last week surprised traders with a larger-than-expected U.S. plantings estimate.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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