US hog futures jump 2% - CME

Live cattle firm ahead of US feedlot data
calendar icon 22 April 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) lean hog futures rose about 2% on Friday as news that China's hog herd is shrinking sparked a round of short-covering after last week's steep declines, Reuters reported, citing traders.

Live cattle futures rose ahead of a monthly US Department of Agriculture (USDA)feedlot report that was released after the close of the market.

In lean hogs, CME's benchmark June contract settled up 2.125 cents at 104.825 cents per pound. July hogs rose 2.125 cents to 106.475 cents.

China's agriculture ministry said the country's sow herd stood at 39.92 million head as of the end of March, down 7.3% from a year ago. Beijing has encouraged its pig enterprises, which raise half of the world’s pigs, to reduce hog capacity after a rapid expansion led to an oversupply and a multi-year slump in prices.

The news "gave (traders) a reason to cover their shorts," said Dan Norcini, an independent livestock trader.

Live cattle futures ended higher but feeder cattle futures sagged, pressured by a jump in corn futures that signalled higher feed costs. 

CME June live cattle settled up 0.300 cent at 175.675 cents per pound. May feeder cattle ended down 0.550 cent at 242.0 cents per pound.

After the close, the USDA reported placements of cattle into US feedlots during March at 1.75 million head, down 12% from a year ago, while analysts surveyed by Reuters on average had expected a smaller decline of only 7%.

The total number of US cattle on feed as of April 1 was 11.8 million head, up 1% from a year ago, while analysts on average had expected a 2.1% increase.

The smaller-than-expected number of cattle placed into feedlots in March signals a reduced number of market-ready cattle later this year, at a time when the total US cattle herd is the smallest in more than 70 years.

"This report suggests that the tight supply of cattle that we saw back in the (USDA's Jan. 31) cattle inventory report is going to make itself a real factor by the end of the third quarter and certainly by the fourth quarter" of 2024, Norcini said.

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