U.S. lean hog futures set an all-time high Thursday for the third day in a row, as sustained record-high pork prices continue to drive the market.
Futures were mostly higher. CME lean hogs for August were recently up 1.1 cents, or 1%, to $1.0575, and climbed as high as $1.0585 earlier. Some thinly traded 2012 contracts were lower.
The market defied a broader selloff in commodities, as a stronger dollar and economic concerns weighed on prices. Equities were also sharply lower.
But cash prices for hogs have remained firm, and a relentless climb in whole pork prices have kept a bullish tone in the market.
"I think hogs can fly, and they are being led by the cutout," said Tom Leffler, head of Leffler Commodities in Kansas.
The market has been lifted by Asian demand, particularly from China, which has faced soaring domestic pork prices that have fueled broader inflation there, analysts said.
Hot temperatures which have curbed hog weights, and thus supplies, has also supported the market.
The October futures contract was also higher, climbing 0.925 cents, but at 93.175 remains at a significant discount to the front month.
Bids from pork processors for hogs in the Midwest direct markets Thursday are expected to be mostly steady. Tight near-term supplies and good demand for the animals may generate a few higher quotes as the day progresses.
Some plants bid aggressively on Wednesday as competition for the available animals remained strong.
Cash hog markets set new all-time highs Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's regional and national weighted average price reports. In addition, wholesale pork prices hit a new high for a seventh consecutive day, gaining $2.08 per hundred pounds on the day to $108.31 a hundred pounds. So far this week, USDA's pork carcass value has gained $3.67, or 3.5%, and the latest figure is up 18.4% from a year ago.
Analysts predict Thursday's hog slaughter to be around 403,000.
The latest Dow Jones Newswires pork packer margin index was plus eight cents per head, compared with plus $1.50 the previous day.
The terminal markets were expected to trade mostly steady to modestly higher with tops seen from $68.50 to $74 a hundred pounds.
The latest CME two-day lean hog index, calculated using USDA market data, for Tuesday was up 1.11 cents to $1.0445 a pound.