April hogs traded slightly lower early during the session, then pushed moderately lower into the mid-session. Continued concerns with a stiff premium of futures to the cash market helped to pressure the market and push April hogs to their lowest price level since January 26th. Cash hogs were steady to $0.50 higher at some locations while the direct trade was $1.00 lower. Many traders believe that export activity may be slowing, and that ideas of higher seasonal supplies in the near future may pressure the cash market during the near-term. A weaker than expected tone for the cash market helped to drive the market lower late in the session and down to new lows for the move. Some traders expect active marketings from producers this week and with higher average weights, pork production could be ample. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $91.96, down 12 cents from Friday but up from $90.77 the previous week. The CME Lean Hog Index as of February 24th came in at 83.60, up 27 cents from the previous session and down from 83.85 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 415,000 head yesterday. This was up from 394,000 head last week but down from 428,000 head a year ago as this time. Positively received comments from the USDA Outlook conference regarding pork exports for 2011 failed to generate a strong reaction from the market. USDA officials believe that 2011 pork exports could reach 4.68 billion pounds, up 11% from 2010 and above the previous 2008 record.
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