U.S. livestock: Lean hogs stumble on weak pork, trade unease

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures fell for a second straight day on Thursday as weak pork prices and nervousness about trade talks between the U.S. and China weighed on the market, traders and analysts said.

Officials from both countries are meeting in Beijing this week to try to hammer out a deal to end a bruising seven-month trade tariff war that has sharply cut Chinese purchases of U.S. pork and other goods.

The hog market had rallied earlier this week on hopes that a trade deal could be struck and that China, the world’s largest hog and pork producer, would accelerate U.S. pork purchases.

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“There were rumours that no progress was being made in the China negotiations. So you had a selloff in the grains and that spilled over into the livestock,” said Alan Brugler, president of Brugler Marketing + Management.

Wholesale pork prices continued to slump on Thursday as the carcass cutout value fell to $62.76/cwt, down $1.12 from the previous day and the lowest in more than six years, according to USDA data.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange April lean hogs ended down 1.075 cents at 58.7 cents/lb. (all figures US$).

Live cattle futures rebounded from two days of declines as firming bids in feedlot cattle markets raised hopes for steady to higher cash cattle sales this week.

Packer bids rose to $125/cwt at Plains feedlot markets but cattle were priced at $128 or more, traders said. Last week’s cash sales were mostly at $125/cwt.

April cattle futures rose 0.4 cent to settle at 127.375 cents/lb.

Feeder cattle futures followed live cattle higher, with additional support stemming from lower feed grain prices as corn futures fell more than one per cent.

The actively traded March feeder cattle contract ended up 0.55 cent at 144.075 cents/lb.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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