U.S. livestock: CME lean hogs slide on fund liquidation

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures fell more than two per cent on Friday on long liquidation and slower-than-expected export demand for U.S. pork supplies, analysts and traders said.

Traders have been anticipating a jump in U.S. pork exports this year as African swine fever, a deadly hog disease, ravages China’s massive hog herd. But so far, shipments of U.S. pork have not been as large as some had hoped.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of U.S. 2019 pork in the week to June 6 at 23,100 tonnes, including 2,400 tonnes to China.

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“The African swine fever situation in China seems to be a dud,” said Dan Norcini, an independent livestock trader. “Granted, China has been buying pork, but the shipments are slow… It’s just not coming out of the country very quickly,” Norcini said.

CME July lean hog futures ended down 2.025 cents at 81.35 cents/lb. and August hogs fell 2.2 cents at 80.625 cents/lb. after dipping to 79.825, its lowest since March 8 (all figures US$).

“In the short term, the technical support levels on the charts are breaking down, and that has got the hedge funds selling,” Norcini said.

After the CME closed, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said managed funds cut their net long position in CME lean hog futures to 33,074 contracts in the week to June 11, down about 6,000 lots, their third straight weekly reduction.

“Guys got long on the African swine fever story, and the cash (market) has not followed it,” said John Payne, senior market analyst at Daniels Trading.

CME live cattle futures fell for a third straight session on sluggish domestic beef demand in the thick of summer grilling season, coupled with rising costs for corn, the top feed source for cattle.

CME most-active August live cattle settled down 0.45 cent at 104.275 cents/lb. CME August feeder cattle ended down 0.7 cent at 135.525 cents/lb.

“We had Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, we have Father’s Day coming up, we’ve got July 4 — those tend to be good demand periods for meat, and we are just not seeing it. I don’t know if (poor) weather had something to do with it,” Norcini said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quoted the choice boxed beef cutout on Friday at $222.23/cwt, up 13 cents from Thursday and nearly unchanged from a week ago, while the select cutout fell $1.95, to $202.76, down from $206.92 a week earlier.

Meanwhile, Chicago Board of Trade corn futures set a five-year high Friday on uncertain U.S. crop prospects after widespread planting delays this spring.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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