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LIVESTOCK-CME lean hogs extend slide to three-month low

Reuters · 01/06/2023 16:55
LIVESTOCK-CME lean hogs extend slide to three-month low

By Tom Polansek

- CME Group lean hog futures sank to a three-month low and closed weaker for the seventh consecutive session on Friday on concerns about weak demand, brokers said.

An increase in hog weights also hung over the market, after recent winter storms delayed processing and backed up livestock on farms, brokers said.

Pork processors slaughtered an estimated 453,000 hogs on Friday, compared to 451,000 hogs a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. Average hog weights in Iowa, southern Minnesota and South Dakota reached 289.9 pounds as of Dec. 31, up 6.7 pounds from a week earlier, according to the latest agency data.

"Slaughter is steady but weights are up," said Karl Setzer, brokerage research lead at Mid-Co Commodities.

CME February lean hogs LHG3 ended down 2.250 cents at 80.275 cents per pound and reached their lowest price since Oct. 7 at 80.125.

U.S. pork inventories are adequate while demand may suffer as consumers continue to grapple with inflation, Setzer said. In December, hourly wages - the price of labor - grew at the slowest annual pace in 16 months.

Worries about overall demand for commodities and economic headwinds, including surging COVID-19 cases in China, also continued to loom over livestock futures, analysts said.

"There is urgency in this market right ," Setzer said.

Live cattle futures also settled lower, with the benchmark February contract LCG3 dropping 0.575 cent to 156.775 cents per pound. In feeder cattle futures, the March contract FCH3 slid 0.900 cent to 185.650 cents per pound.

Wholesale prices for choice cuts of boxed beef rose by $1.36 to $282.99 per hundredweight, while select cuts increased by $2.39 to 259.34 per hundredweight, the USDA said.

The USDA separately reported weekly U.S. beef export sales were 12,500 tonnes for 2023, with reductions of 6,900 tonnes for 2022. Weekly U.S. pork export sales were 73,600 tonnes for 2023, with sales reduction of 51,900 tonnes for 2022.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago)

((Thomas.Polansek@thomsonreuters.com; https://twitter.com/tpolansek))