U.S. lean hog futures were mostly weaker Monday, pressured by strength in the dollar and premiums built over the cash markets, making traders wary.
May lean hogs at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange were off 0.92 cent, or 0.9%, at $1.0150 a pound. June hog futures, the most active contract, was last up slightly with a 0.07 cent gain at $1.0115 a pound.
China raised banks' reserve requirement ratio by 0.50 percentage point, effective Thursday, in an effort to control inflation. The latest move, while expected, might cause some of the large investors to take money out of commodities and push it into safer markets, said Ken Jolliffe, analyst with BIS Commodities.
In addition, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services Inc. changed its outlook on the U.S. to negative, increasing the likelihood of a potential downgrade, which contributed to the uncertainty, analysts said.
Weakness in cattle futures also spilled over into lean hogs, brokers said. When concerns arise about the economic recovery, traders become more cautious about consumer spending for meat, especially the higher priced cuts, which pressures futures prices, they said.
Higher wholesale pork prices Friday provided some support for futures. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported its pork carcass composite value Friday up $0.57 per hundred pounds at $96.57. That was nearly an eight-month high and put the pork carcass composite value at 13.2% above a year ago.
Expectations for the cash hog markets Monday were mostly flat but some mixed views for early-week market direction were seen as well. A few plants may try to save some money on hogs if they have enough supplies booked for the first half of the week or elect to trim their slaughter schedules, said livestock dealers and analysts. Others dealers and market managers said supplies may be tight enough to keep prices from falling or selling interest among producers may turn slower later in the week ahead of the Easter holiday weekend.
The terminal markets were expected to trade generally flat to narrowly mixed with top prices seen at mostly $64 per hundred pounds on a live basis.