U.S. livestock futures closed mostly higher Tuesday as commodities received general support from a weaker dollar and cash prices for cattle and hogs are seen possibly stabilizing.
June lean hog futures settled 1.25 cents, or 1.4%, higher at 90.17 cents a pound, while July futures, which are the most actively traded, ended 1.32 cents, or 1.5%, higher at 89.92 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Hog futures have seen a sharp selloff since late April when the front-month contract set all-time highs. But analysts say the declines appear to be overdone, causing some investors to re-enter the market, looking for a bargain or expecting prices from a technical standpoint to stabilize after breaching key chart levels.
Further support for prices came from weakness in the U.S. dollar, which boosts general investor interest in commodities. A weak greenback makes dollar-denominated commodities more attractive to foreign buyers.
The flow of investor money into various commodities may have a further effect on livestock futures as the week continues and funds reallocate their portfolios to start June, said Ken Jolliffe, an analyst with BIS Commodities.
Yet any rebound in hog futures is likely to be limited by continued weakness in retail demand. Some expected pork demand to pick up over the Memorial Day holiday, but it appears to have been a disappointing long weekend for sales, said Steve Wagner, an analyst at Country Hedging.
"It is not that there is strong demand," he said of Tuesday's gains.
Wagner added the market could eventually receive some support from producers reducing the size of their herds in the face of high feed costs. But that tightening isn't likely to show up in the near term.
In cash markets, a majority of the pork processors were bidding from steady to $1 per hundred pounds lower prices for hogs, compared with Friday afternoon's quotes, said livestock dealers and market managers. Some predict that prices could stabilize or possibly turn higher later in the week as processors schedule deliveries for next week. There also may be better buying interest for pork grilling cuts for mid-June retail promotions following reduced production this week.
The terminal markets traded mixed, $1 lower to $1 higher, with top prices from $60 to $63 on a live basis.
The latest Dow Jones Newswires pork packer margin index was plus 58 cents per head, compared with minus $7.16 a head the previous day.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's pork carcass composite value, a measure of wholesale prices, Friday rose 29 cents to $90.04 per hundred pounds.