U.S. livestock: CME hogs touch contract high for third day

Cattle futures up with beef exports

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Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures climbed on Thursday, setting a contract high for the third consecutive day on firm Chinese demand, traders said.

Weekly U.S. pork export sales to China, the world’s top pork consumer, reached a three-month high of 17,873 tonnes in the week ended Jan. 28, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That accounted for about 39 per cent of total weekly U.S. sales of 46,305 tonnes. USDA said total shipments were 38,275 tonnes, including 11,977 tonnes for China.

China, the world’s top pork producer, has grappled with the deadly hog disease African swine fever since August 2018, raising its need for meat imports. A surge in disease outbreaks this winter will slow China’s rapid recovery from the swine fever contagion, according to industry participants and analysts.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) April lean hog futures on Thursday closed up 0.1 cent at 79.3 cents/lb. The contract traded up to 80.075 cents, topping Wednesday’s life-of-contract high of 79.95 cents.

Export demand has also supported the beef market, with CME April live cattle rising 1.3 cents, to 123.75 cents/lb. March feeder cattle gained 0.975 cent to close at 139.5 cents/lb.

USDA said beef export sales were 29,808 tonnes last week, compared with 28,756 tonnes a week earlier.

Domestic demand also underpinned meat prices as some U.S. restaurants are reopening after COVID-19 restrictions, analysts said.

Global food prices rose for an eighth consecutive month in January to their highest since July 2014, the United Nations food agency said, as economies continue to battle fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Reporting for Reuters by Tom Polansek in Chicago.

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