June hogs closed moderately lower during yesterday's session and finished with the lowest closing price in 15 months. Cash markets were down $0.50-$1.00 and pork values were steady to slightly higher late Friday. Weak packer margins, much higher than normal weights and fears of sluggish exports were all thought to have helped push the hog market down towards new lows for the move. Hefty weights and the sluggish pace of pork movement through the marketing pipeline are thought to be key negative forces for the market, which many traders feel has helped to hold hog prices in a steady downtrend since their February 22nd peak. Slaughter came in at 410,000 head, which was a little lower than expected and may reflect sluggish demand levels from packers. This was down from 413,000 head last week but up from 393,000 head a year ago as this time. The CME Lean Hog Index as of April 26th came in at 82.68, down 14 cents from the previous session and down from 82.79 the week before. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $77.94, up $1.05 from Friday and up from $77.41 the previous week. Packer margins have been in the red since February, and it will take higher pork values and/or lower cash market prices in order to improve those margins.
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