Hog Futures Slide to Two-Week Low

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Hog futures fell for a fifth consecutive session as meatpackers continued offering less money for pigs.

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December lean hog futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell 1.1% to 63.925 cents a pound, the lowest close in over two weeks.

Cash prices for slaughter-ready hogs had risen through most of October before turning lower in November. The reversal came as meatpackers eased off buying hogs from producers, with demand typically softer ahead of Thanksgiving. Packers also slaughtered fewer hogs last week.

Market observers expected cash prices steady to a dollar lower again on Tuesday.

"Cash hog prices have been slowly eroding," said the Steiner Consulting Group in a note to clients. "Ultimately, demand going into the holidays will determine the appropriate price levels."

Hog producers built up herd sizes earlier this year in anticipation of two new slaughterhouses that opened in September. The lower kill pace risks exacerbating a build-up of fattened, slaughter-ready hogs and further pressuring prices.

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A steady stream of pork exports in particular are crucial in offsetting a build-up, Steiner said, though the rate of sales abroad has slowed in recent weeks. The four-week average of weekly sales has fallen almost 20% from a year earlier, according to the consultancy.

Cattle futures, meanwhile, were mostly lower Tuesday. Prices have rallied in recent weeks, spurred higher by rising cash prices. Traders were holding off further buying until a direction emerged in this week's trade.

CME December live cattle futures fell 0.6% to $1.24625 a pound on Tuesday, with some later-month contracts rising.

Analysts expect cash prices steady to higher this week, after averaging $123 per 100 pounds live and $192 dressed last week.

A little under 1,200 cattle are listed at Wednesday morning's online Fed Cattle Exchange auction, which often helps to set a price direction for the week. Meatpackers bought one lot of 274 head last week for $120.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 07, 2017 15:30 ET (20:30 GMT)