Livestock Futures Turn Higher

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Hog futures reversed course to close higher, ending several consecutive days of losses.

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Lean hog futures for October delivery rose 0.4% to 63.775 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, halting a six-day slump.

An uptick in wholesale pork prices helped the turnaround. A pound of pork rose 1.39 cents to 89.32 cents a pound as of midday Thursday, led by a jump in pork belly prices. Bellies rose 5.39 cents to $1.574 a pound.

Pork bellies have been in a downtrend, pressuring the hog market, after climbing above $2 a pound to record highs earlier this summer. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday that belly stocks in cold storage fell to an all-time low for July of 17.55 million pounds. That was down 21% from June and 65% from a year earlier.

Analysts say that the fall in frozen pork bellies could buttress the hog market as meatpackers capitalize on the tight stocks to raise meat prices.

Cattle futures also rose after initially trading lower. The market has recently been in a slump similar to that weighing down hog prices, with meat and slaughter-ready cattle prices falling on growing supplies.

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Some analysts say, however, that cattle futures may be reaching their seasonal low and are due for an upturn. CME most-active October live cattle contracts rose 0.6% to $1.06825 a pound.

Much of the cash trade for cattle was lower this week. Meatpackers paid an average of $1.07 a pound live and $1.72 a pound dressed nationally on Wednesday, according to the USDA. That was down several cents a pound from last week's trade.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 24, 2017 15:21 ET (19:21 GMT)