U.S. lean hog futures rose Wednesday on a broad-based rally in commodities and continued signs of strong demand for U.S. pork abroad.
August hog futures closed up 1.35 cents, or 1.4%, to 99.27 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME October hog futures rose 1.02 cents, or 1.1%, to 93.22 cents a pound.
Hog futures followed a broad-based rally in commodities as traders responded to comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that helped accelerate declines in an already falling U.S. dollar.
A weak greenback tends to support dollar-denominated commodities since foreign buyers have more spending power. Bernanke told Congress Wednesday that the Fed would consider injecting more liquidity into the market--a strategy known as quantitative easing--if the U.S. economy falters.
Hog futures also rose from a related rally in corn futures. September corn futures rose 22 3/4 cents, or 3.4%, to $6.86 3/4 a bushel in trading at the Chicago Board of Trade. Higher corn prices are often bullish for hog futures as producers have higher feed costs to pass onto meat packers. High feed prices can also press livestock producers to shrink their herds.
Traders are looking for clearer signs that China will indeed import more pork to stabilize food prices there--a possibility that fueled a sharp rally in hog futures on Monday.
A USDA report Wednesday morning showed U.S. pork exports continue to boom this year. Through May 31, U.S. pork producers had shipped overseas nearly 18% more pork than they did through the same time last year. On Monday, China again signaled that it could soon import more pork to control spiraling food prices there.
Cash hog prices were reported mostly steady on buying interest mainly for next week. Most of the processing plants are full for this week but some have openings for additional hogs to arrive Monday or Tuesday, said livestock dealers and market managers.
The number of animals available for shipment to processors next week could be down modestly compared with this week and cause buyers to bid more aggressively for them or trim slaughter schedules.
Producers are up to date on shipments, and hot temperatures are trimming daily weight gains. Hogs eat less when temperatures are high, which means they don't gain as much weight as compared with more moderate conditions in spring and autumn.
The USDA's pork carcass composite value, a measure of wholesale prices, on Tuesday rose 14 cents to $97.34 a hundred pounds.
The terminal markets traded steady to $1 a hundred pounds higher with top prices from $63 to $65 a hundred pounds on a live basis.