April 27, 2020 / 10:56 PM / a month ago

LIVESTOCK-U.S. hog futures surge on fears of tightening pork supplies

CHICAGO, April 27 (Reuters) - U.S. lean hog futures rose their daily limit on Monday on fears of tightening domestic pork supplies as the coronavirus pandemic forces slowdowns at slaughterhouses, analysts said.

June lean hog futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange settled up the daily maximum of 3.750 cents at 55.275 cents per pound, the contract’s highest since April 8. Daily limits will widen to 5.500 cents for Tuesday’s session.

The world’s biggest meat companies - including Smithfield Foods Inc, Cargill Inc, JBS USA and Tyson Foods Inc - have halted operations at about 20 slaughterhouses and processing plants in North America since April as workers fall ill.

With meat-packing plants unable to receive livestock, some hog and poultry producers are being forced to cull their herds and flocks.

“We are taking hogs out of supply that are not going to go into the meat supply,” said Doug Houghton, analyst with Brock Associates.

The U.S. wholesale pork cutout rose by $3.76 on Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reflecting tighter supplies. The U.S. hog slaughter totaled 1.986 million head in the week ended April 25, the USDA said, down from a weekly total of nearly 2.8 million head in late March.

CME cattle futures closed higher on spillover strength from hogs along with historically high beef packer margins.

CME June live cattle settled up 1.425 cents at 84.050 cents per pound. August feeder cattle futures rose 0.875 cent at 127.275 cents per pound.

The USDA late Friday said that the number of cattle in U.S. feedlots as of April 1 was 95% of the year-earlier total, matching trade expectations. Monthly placements were 23% lower than March 2019. Analysts had been expecting placements to fall 21%.

Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Leslie Adler

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