U.S. livestock: Hog futures advance for second day

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures closed higher on Friday for a second session on follow-through buying after Thursday’s limit-up close and reminders of stepped-up Chinese demand for U.S. pork, traders said.

Benchmark April lean hog futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) settled up 1.375 cents, at 66.25 cents/lb. (all figures US$).

The market continued to react to comments from a Tyson Foods executive about surging pork demand from China, where an outbreak of African swine fever has devastated the Chinese hog herd, tightening pork supplies.

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Tyson CEO Noel White told analysts on a conference call Thursday that the company’s first-quarter orders to China were up nearly 600 per cent from a year earlier.

Several traders cautioned that year-ago pork sales to China likely were relatively small. Also, CME lean hog futures were seen as oversold and primed for a rebound after the April contract tumbled 16 per cent last week.

“The market’s reaction to the Tyson comments was ridiculous. However, I don’t think we are going to going to go back down,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist for Allendale Inc.

“The Tyson comment reminded the trade that there is a good build-up in pork exports for this year,” he said.

CME lean hog futures traded under expanded limits on Friday but limits for Monday’s session will revert to the standard three cents/lb., the exchange said.

Live cattle futures closed marginally higher, following the strength in lean hogs, even as cash cattle traded in Kansas and Texas at $121/cwt, down from $122 last week, traders said.

The CME benchmark April live cattle futures contract settled up 0.05 cent at 119.8 cents/lb. Front-month February rose 0.2 cent to close at 121.325 cents.

CME March feeder cattle futures fell 0.7 cent to end at 135.2 cents/lb.

The wholesale choice boxed beef cutout value fell 81 cents to $210.12/cwt on Friday while select cuts tumbled $2.07, to $203.89/cwt, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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