U.S. livestock: Hogs weaken on profit taking, cattle mixed

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Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures fell from a 3-1/2 week high on Thursday on a round of mild profit-taking following four straight days of gains.

Live cattle futures also were lower while feeder cattle contracts edged higher, their sixth straight day of gains.

CME lean hog futures for April delivery ended down 0.7 cent to settle at 66.875 cents/lb. (all figures US$). The contract found support at its 20-day moving average.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates China’s hog production in 2019 to be down 195 million head from 2018 due to African swine fever, chief economist Rob Johansson said Thursday.

The department expects the lethal pig disease to kill another 80 million pigs in 2020, he said at a conference in Washington.

China’s sow herd increased by 1.2 per cent in January from December, the ministry of agriculture and rural affairs said on Thursday, the fourth consecutive month in which the country’s breeding herd number had increased.

Benchmark CME April live cattle futures settled down 1.65 cents at 119.15 cents/lb. CME March feeder cattle futures ended up 0.025 cent at 140.8 cents/lb.

Traders were waiting for USDA’s monthly Cattle on Feed report on Friday. Analysts estimated that the amount of cattle in U.S. feedlots as of Feb. 1 was 102.4 per cent of the February 2019 total.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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