U.S. livestock: Hog futures rebound with pork prices

(Regis Lefebure photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hogs on Friday bounced back from Thursday’s losses, sparked by the uptick in wholesale pork values, traders said.

April futures closed up 0.325 cents per pound, to 67.475 cents, with May 0.6 cents higher at 79.9 cents (all figures US$).

Friday afternoon’s wholesale pork price jumped $2.38 per hundredweight (cwt) from Thursday to $70.51, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Processors charged grocers more for pork, and lowered market-ready or cash hog bids, to limit cash spending and salvage their slipping margins.

USDA data showed the afternoon’s average cash hog price in Iowa/Minnesota slipped 12 cents/cwt from Thursday to $66.26.

Until Friday, a series of winter storms battered the eastern half of the country, which delayed hog deliveries and drove up the cost for available livestock.

Meanwhile, pork demand struggled as U.S. East Coast residents brace for another wave of snowy weather while shippers work through the backlog of meat at U.S. West Coast ports.

The end of the West Coast port slowdown generated market enthusiasm but it will take a long time to clear product that backed up as a result, said University of Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt.

Live cattle up after wild ride

February CME live cattle futures settled down sharply following its noon CST expiration. But remaining contracts closed higher on their discounts to cash prices.

February ended 3.125 cents/lb. lower at 158 cents, while April closed 1.9 cents higher at 151.7 cents and June up 0.9 cent to 143.85 cents.

On Friday, a small number of cash cattle in Nebraska moved at $158-$159, steady to $2 lower than last week, a feedlot source said.

Kansas cash bids were at $159 versus $162 asking prices, according to feedlot sources.

Earlier this week, a few cash cattle sold in the U.S. Plains at $156-$157/cwt, down from last week’s overall $158-$160 sales.

Some packers paid steady money for supplies based on vastly improved packer margins and near-record wholesale beef values. April future’s current price deterred other processors.

The afternoon choice wholesale beef price gained 55 cents/cwt, to $247.58, from Thursday. Select cuts were up 0.67 cents to $245.57, based on USDA data.

Technical buying and live cattle gains lifted CME feeder cattle futures.

March closed 1.6 cents/lb. higher at 201.9 cents.

— Theopolis Waters reports on livestock futures markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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