January 2, 2019 / 11:29 PM / 6 months ago

LIVESTOCK-Hog futures jump on hopes of U.S. pork exports to China

    By Michael Hirtzer
    CHICAGO, Jan 2 (Reuters) - U.S. lean hog futures        
jumped to a nearly two-week high on Wednesday on speculation
that exports of American pork to China will rise in the coming
months, traders and analysts said. 
    Representatives from the United States and China were
negotiating to end the trade war between the world's biggest
economies that has impeded shipments of pork, soybeans and other
goods. China also was working to slow the spread of the highly
contagious African swine fever virus.
    Each factor could boost exports of U.S. pork to China, where
the ASF virus has forced the top consumer of the meat to cull
hog herds. 
    China on Wednesday reported a new outbreak on a farm with
73,000 pigs in Heilongjiang province while the agriculture
ministry said slaughterhouses will have to test pig products for
presence of the virus before selling them at market.
    Chicago Mercantile Exchange February lean hog futures
        surged as much as 4 percent to a high of 63.425 cents
per pound before the contract settled at 61.700 cents, up 0.725.
    "The news of ASF at the really big farm in China was the
catalyst," independent livestock futures trader Dan Norcini said
of the rally in hog futures. He added that some commercial hog
operations likely sold futures to lock in higher prices, which
helped bring prices off their highs.
    China still has a 25 percent tariff on imports of American
pork. Buyers in China have increased purchases of U.S. pork in
recent weeks for supplies to be shipped at some point in 2019.
But more sales were needed to convince some traders that China
would buy enough pork to help eliminate large U.S. stockpiles.
    "This is another feather in the cap for the bulls, but we
still don't have any business to China," Norcini said of pork
    Cattle futures were mostly lower on Wednesday, weakening on
technical selling amid a lack of news to propel gains.
    CME February live cattle         settled down 0.350 cent at
123.525 cents per pound and CME March feeder cattle         shed
0.800 cent to end at 145.950 cents per pound.

 (Reporting by Michael Hirtzer
Editing by Tom Brown)
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