U.S. hog futures continue to face headwinds over demand questions

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U.S. lean hog futures traded choppy on Wednesday, amid ongoing pressure from large domestic supplies and rebounding pork production, analysts said.

Meanwhile, concerns over a potential slowdown in U.S. pork exports kept markets jittery for a second session, traders said.

China’s meat importers fear clearing delays and a hit to demand after one of the country’s major ports began requiring coronavirus tests for all meat and seafood containers to prevent contamination.

Tianjin on the northern coast, the primary port for Beijing, started testing batches from every arriving container on Monday, two importers and an official briefed on the matter said.

Adding to those concerns was news that the size of China’s pig herd increased 3.9% in May from the previous month, as more newly built pig farms started production, the agriculture ministry said.

U.S. processors are ramping up, but there is a hefty back log of animals to work through, said Jack Scoville, futures market analyst at The Price Futures Group.

“It just takes a while to work through the surplus,” Scoville said. “But the situation will improve, and going into the fall, we can start seeing a somewhat tighter market again.”

Chicago Mercantile Exchange July lean hog futures, the most actively traded contract, was down for most of the session but settled unchanged at 49.65 cents per pound. August futures settled up 0.15 cents to 53.175 cents on technical buying.

Cattle futures were mixed as traders forecast that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cattle on Feed report on Friday will show May cattle marketings down 26.1%, according to a Reuters poll.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange August live cattle settled down 0.075 cent at 96.85 cents per pound. August feeder cattle futures settled up 0.700 cent at 133.575 cents per pound.

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