LIVESTOCK-CME lean hog, live cattle futures close modestly lower

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Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures ended lower on Thursday, retreating near the close on technical selling and soft cash hog markets, traders said.

The CME’s lean hog index, a two-day weighted average of cash hog prices, fell 0.51 cent to 78.72 cents per pound.

CME December lean hogs settled down 0.325 cent at 75.375 cents per pound and February hogs ended 0.250 cent lower at 79.075 cents.

Hog futures traded higher at times, supported by news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Wednesday it would allow nine pork processing plants to apply to operate faster line speeds under a pilot program. Increased speeds could boost packer demand and lead to lower hog weights, a bullish factor for hog futures, analysts said.

The wholesale U.S. pork carcass cutout price rose $5.23 to $95.80 per hundredweight (cwt), according to USDA data. Ham prices jumped by $23.55 to $95.17 per cwt, after easing this week.

In the cattle markets, CME December live cattle futures ended down 0.125 cent at 131.875 cents per pound and the February contract fell 0.425 cent to settle at 136.400 cents.

Benchmark January feeder cattle futures rose 1.025 cents to end at 159.075 cents per pound.

Market-ready cattle traded in cash markets at $131 to $132 per hundredweight this week in the southern Plains, the USDA said, up from $129 last week. Some producers are holding out for $134, Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist for StoneX, said in a client note.

Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry said two cases reported on Thursday of a neurodegenerative disorder in patients in Rio de Janeiro state were not related to beef consumption, tamping down fears of possible “mad cow” disease causing human illness.