Livestock Futures End Mixed Session Mostly Higher

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Hog futures traded sideways on lower cash-market and pork prices.

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Pork prices were sharply lower Thursday, falling 1.17 cents to $98.84 a pound as of midday and were led by the sliding cost of pork bellies. Pork has stayed above $1 a pound in July, with pork bellies trading at record highs. A pound of pork belly was down over 3 cents to $2.1167 at midday.

That had traders cautious about longer-term support for hog futures. Some analysts say high pork belly prices are one of the few bright spots in a market otherwise facing growing supplies. That means a peak in demand for bellies, used to make bacon, could leave hog futures vulnerable to a correction.

"They're trading on the defensive because we know that the bellies are going down hard," said Jim Clarkson, an analyst at A&A Trading Inc. at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Lean hog futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange were mixed, with the front-month August contract recovering from early losses to close 0.3% higher at 82.25 cents a pound. Most contracts for deferred delivery were lower.

Cattle futures reversed course to close mostly higher, with feeder cattle making the largest gains. CME August feeders rose 0.9% to $1.47825 a pound, while August live cattle closed steady at $1.143 a pound.

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The USDA said meatpackers bought some 45,000 head of cattle across the country on Wednesday, with trade more widespread than initially thought. Cattle sold for $1.17 a pound live and $1.188 a pound dressed. Traders were watching on Thursday morning to see whether prices in follow-up trade would be steady or higher.

China temporarily halted some Australian meat imports, Australian officials said Thursday, though analysts said the global price impact was likely to be limited.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at benjamin.parkin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 27, 2017 15:17 ET (19:17 GMT)