February hogs rallied to the highest price levels since December 9th but could not sustain early strength and fell back into the recent trading range. A selloff in the US dollar after the Federal Reserve's post-FOMC meeting announcement was widely seen to have supported the market. A setback in loin prices late Tuesday was thought to have pressured the pork cut-out, and may pinch margins and bring about weaker demand from packers. Ideas that the market is adjusting to a lower supply base in the first quarter has helped to provide underlying support to the market. Packer margins are weak and another set-back in pork cut-out yesterday could dull short-term demand but cash markets have seen a steady rise in recent weeks. The CME Lean Hog Index as of January 23rd came in at 85.66, up 27 cents from the previous session and up from 84.60 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 426,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 1.280 million head, up from 1.224 million head last week at this time and up from 1.266 million head a year ago. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $84.17, down 56 cents from Tuesday and down from $85.33 the previous week which is the lowest cut-out value since January 13th. Weekly average weights for Iowa-Southern Minnesota as of January 21st came in at 275.3 pounds, down from 276.4 pounds the previous week and up from 274.3 pounds last year.
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