Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog contracts landed in positive territory for a second straight day on Friday, lifted by short-covering and technical buying that offset bearish fundamentals, traders said.
December lean hogs closed 1.425 cents/lb. higher at 46.8 cents, and February ended 1.675 cents higher at 54 cents (all figures US$).
Both contracts finished above their respective 40-day moving averages of 46.59 and 52.34 cents.
Futures made headway even though wholesale pork and slaughter-ready, or cash, hog prices stumbled amid abundant supplies before the end of October Pork Month on Monday.
“I was looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, but it looks pretty dim,” an Indiana hog merchant said regarding the potential for further near-term cash price weakness.
Friday afternoon’s wholesale pork values sagged 48 cents, to $72.89/cwt from Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
Separate USDA data on Friday afternoon showed cash hog prices in Iowa/Minnesota at $45.73/cwt, down 24 cents from Thursday.
Smithfield Foods plans to resume full production at its Tar Heel, North Carolina hog plant on Monday, which was closed on Thursday and Friday due to “operational issues” as a result of Hurricane Matthew, a company spokeswoman said on Thursday.
The U.S. government estimated Friday’s overall industry hog slaughter at 403,000 head, down 31,000 from last week.
Mostly lower cattle futures
CME live cattle futures turned mostly lower on profit-taking after digesting this week’s better-than-expected cash prices that underpinned the October contract, said traders.
October live cattle, which will expire on Monday, closed up 0.075 cent/lb. to 104.2 cents. Most actively traded December ended 0.8 cent lower at 104.35 cents, and February 0.625 cent lower at 104.925 cents.
This week packers in the U.S. Plains paid $104 to $105/cwt for cash cattle, up as much as $5 from a week ago, said analysts and feedlot sources.
They said hefty packer profits, this week’s two-day futures rally and higher prices for cattle paid at Wednesday’s Fed Cattle Exchange auction emboldened feedlots to hold out for more money.
Earlier on Friday, market bulls were further encouraged by the upswing in wholesale beef prices as grocers prepare to feature meat proteins other than pork in early November.
CME feeder cattle closed down sharply on profit-taking, technical selling and back-month live cattle futures losses. November feeders finished 2.325 cents per pound lower at 121.55 cents.
— Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.