The hog market pushed moderately lower on the session early, descending to the lowest price levels since July 1st. Cash markets traded $2.00 lower, as packer demand for inventory is down due to a lighter slaughter schedule for next week. Limited disruptions to key slaughter plants in North Carolina due to the East Coast storm, another sharp setback in pork product prices and fears of slower consumer demand into early September were all thought to have added to the negative tone. The steep decline in the pork product market over the past few weeks has many traders looking for a further downtrend in the cash market. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $98.03, down $2.60 from Monday and down from $105.57 the previous week. This is the lowest level since July 13th. Loins, hams and ribs were under pressure yesterday. October hogs closed at the lowest level since June 8th yesterday, as near-term cash fundamentals look weak. Many traders see lower pork values this week as a reason to suspect that lower cash markets will continue into next week and for much of September. The CME Lean Hog Index as of August 26th came in at 99.75, down 99 cents from the previous session and down from 104.31 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 413,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 835,000 head, unchanged from last week at this time but up from 814,000 head a year ago. Pork prices in China rose for the third week in a row, and were up 0.3% during the past week. The hog population in China in July was estimated at 461.4 million head, up 4% from February. For comparison, the June 1st US population was 65 million head.
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