Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures fell sharply on Thursday as traders priced in expectations for waning demand after the U.S. Independence Day holiday this weekend.
Signs of poor demand from China, which has been a big buyer of U.S. pork since an outbreak of African swine fever decimated production in the world’s top consumer, added pressure to the hog market.
“I think people might start to give some credence to the Chinese talk about rebuilding their hog herd,” independent trader Dan Norcini said. “They have not shown up in any size, compared to what they have been doing recently, in the recent export sales.”
The U.S. Agriculture Department’s weekly export sales report on Thursday morning showed that China bought just 1,500 tonnes of U.S. pork. Pork export sales to all countries totaled 28,600 tonnes.
CME live hog futures for August delivery dropped 2.95 cents, to 100.3 cents/lb. (all figures US$).
The wholesale U.S. pork carcass cutout price rose six cents to $113.90/cwt, according to USDA data.
On Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Agriculture held a daylong exercise to test its response plan in case of an outbreak of African swine fever at a livestock show.
In the beef market, CME August live cattle futures settled 0.85 cent higher at 123.575 cents/lb. CME August feeder cattle rose 1.7 cents to 156.325 cents/lb.
USDA said beef export sales fell to 12,100 tonnes from 17,300 tonnes a week ago.
Prices for choice cuts of boxed beef slid by $3.64, to $287.65/cwt, while prices for select cuts were $2.34 lower at $266.93/cwt, according to USDA.
— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.