Hog futures climb as pork prices bounce from lows, slaughter accelerates

Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures rebounded on Thursday from four sessions of losses, amid an accelerating slaughter pace and indications that pork prices may be near a bottom following a prolonged slide, traders said.

The daily hog slaughter was slower-than-normal earlier this week, which some analysts said may be a sign that hog supplies may be tighter than anticipated.

CME February lean hogs settled 1.775 cents higher at 77.825 cents per pound.

The hog slaughter on Thursday was estimated at 473,000 head, the highest so far this week, down from 480,000 head a week ago and 497,000 a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“We had problems at hog processing plants this week. But the belief of that it might have been plants matching up with a lower-than-expected hog supply,” said Rich Nelson, chief commodity strategist with Allendale Inc.

“What appeared to be a bearish issue for hog processing plants might actually be just them matching the low supply,” he said.

The wholesale pork carcass cutout value was also up from earlier in the week at $86.96 per cwt, compared with $83.71 per cwt to start the week, according to USDA data.

However, net pork export sales of 20,466 tonnes in the week ended Dec. 2 were the smallest in four months, USDA data showed.

Live cattle futures fell for a second straight session on Thursday on disappointing beef export sales in the latest reporting week and flat cash cattle markets.

Exporters sold a net 14,658 tonnes of beef cuts last week, the lowest weekly total in seven weeks, according to USDA data.

CME February live cattle ended down 0.875 cent at 137.800 cents per pound. January feeder cattle rose 0.675 cent to 165.075 cents per pound, while deferred contracts dropped.