Hog prices are mixed to mostly lower through morning trade with traders slowly but steadily backing away from the market at the end of the week. Additional sales of pork to China was not enough to spark buyer interest Thursday morning. Cattle trade remains mixed with limited activity seen ahead of the April 1 cattle on feed report. Corn futures are lower in light trade. May corn futures are 1 1/4 cent lower. Stock markets are mixed in light trade. Dow Jones is 109 points higher with Nasdaq down 6 points.
Outside the lightly traded and soon-to-expire April live cattle futures, which have posted a firm bounce higher, light pressure is seen through the rest of the complex. Live cattle futures are generally steady to 20 cents lower, indicating an overall lack of direction in the market as interest has quickly eroded through the last couple of days. Traders seem to be showing little interest in the upcoming cattle on feed report which will be released Thursday afternoon. With markets closed Friday, traders will have an extra day to process and analyze report numbers before Monday's trade. Cash cattle activity remains sluggish with bids seen in parts of the north at $127 live and $204 dressed. Asking prices are holding at $128 to $130 live and $208 and higher dressed. Following light to moderate trade in Kansas and Texas Wednesday at $126 per cwt, most business is expected to be done in those areas. Cleanup trade may develop through the end of the week, although the tone of the market is likely set. It is uncertain if trade will develop in the North through the afternoon after the cattle on feed report, or if both sides will have to return Friday to finish business. Boxed Beef cut-outs at midday are mixed, $0.65 lower (select) and up $0.45 per cwt (choice) with light movement of 54 total loads reported (27 loads of choice cuts, 14 loads of select cuts, 4 loads of trimmings, 8 loads of ground beef).
Firm nearby support is slowly moving into feeder cattle trade Thursday morning. With markets closed Friday and the release of April 1 cattle on feed report shifting to Thursday afternoon due to the Good Friday market holiday, traders are starting to adjust positions at the end of the week. Although estimates expect cattle placements during March to increase, most traders feel that these increases have already been factored into prices, and any placement levels lower than early estimates are expected to be neutral to bullish for the market. Limited buying may continue to trickle into the complex through the end of the session, although the direction remains unchanged.
Light to moderate pressure swiftly moved through lean hog futures despite additional pork sales to China. According to Thursday's export sales report, an additional 23,500 metric tons of pork was sold to China. This accounts for a two-week total of over 100,000 mt sold. The market was not encouraged by this amount of sales reported, allowing for prices to generally erode through the morning. Although the limited volume in the market on the last day of trade for the week may limit interest. The fact that current price levels have apparently factored in even larger sales is concerning. Cash prices are lower on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price fell $0.79 at $76.22 per cwt with the range from $71.00 to $77.47, on 6,043 head reported sold. Cash prices are lower on the Iowa/Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price fell $2.09 at $76.37 per cwt with the range from $75.00 to $77.47, on 540 head reported sold. Pork values stabilized Thursday with very limited volume. Pork cutouts fell $0.01 per cwt at $86.99 per cwt with 139 loads traded. Lean hog index for 4/16 is $80.24 up 0.40, with a projected two-day index is $80.63 up 0.39.
Rick Kment can be reached at email@example.com
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