April live cattle settle down - CME

Hog futures slide to new contract lows
calendar icon 24 March 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) lean hog futures crumbled to new life-of-contract lows on Thursday, before finishing mixed, on concerns about poor demand for US pork, Reuters reported, citing analysts.

The market has tanked since last week, with additional pressure stemming from weak cash prices and larger-than-expected supplies of hogs. The front-month contract is down 13% since March 10.

"Clearly I think there's some major demand concerns," said Doug Houghton, an analyst for Brock Associates.

Front-month April lean hogs settled down 0.325 cent at 75.750 cents per pound, after hitting a contract low of 75.125 cents. June hogs closed 0.025 cent higher at 89.375 cents per pound, after setting a contract low of 87.800 cents.

The sell-off has been overdone and the market could be ripe for a technical rebound, though demand concerns remain, traders said.

"Until we see some improvement in pork demand and seasonal traditional declines in the hog supplies, then I don't know how much of a turnaround we're going to get," Houghton said.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said ham cutout values eased 7 cents to $69.94 per hundredweight (cwt), after a steep drop last week. Bellies jumped $2.53 to $84.64 per cwt, while the carcass cutout rose 44 cents to $80.30 per cwt.

Frozen US pork supplies at the end of February were up 9% from last year, the USDA said separately in a monthly Cold Storage report. Total ham supplies were up 1%, while stocks of pork bellies were up 42% from last year.

Total pounds of beef in freezers, meanwhile, were down 6% from last year, the USDA said.

In the beef markets, CME April live cattle settled down 0.150 cent at 162.150 cents per pound. April feeder cattle finished up 0.625 cent at 195.000 cents per pound.

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