U.S. lean hog futures were mostly weak in the front months in early trading Monday, as premiums to current cash prices and demand uncertainty weighed on prices.
Thinly traded May lean hogs at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange were off 1.05 cents a pound, or 1.0%, at $1.0100 a pound. June hog futures, the most active contract, were last down 0.40 cent, or 0.4%, at 99.65c a pound.
Although the monthly cold storage data released Thursday showed less beef in the nation's warehouses at the end of March compared with the previous month and only a modest increase in pork from end-February, both categories remain up from a year ago, which may be a concern for some traders, analysts said.
The premiums in futures prices and still expensive energy costs also may concern traders, said Don Roose, analyst with U.S. Commodities. These factors may offset support from expectations for seasonal strength and keep the market range bound.
Expectations of higher corn prices were supportive for the distant hog contracts since more expensive feed could cause producers to trim their breeding herds or sell the hogs at lighter weights, reducing total pork output.
Around nine pork processing plants are taking the day off for the Easter holiday, according to livestock dealers and market managers. Some, but not all, of those plants are expected to operate Saturday to make up the downtime.
In the cash markets Monday, prices were expected to be mostly flat in light trading overall. Selling interest could be limited as well to begin the week as some producers may wait until all plants return to work before offering hogs for sale.
The terminal markets were expected to trade generally flat with top prices seen from $63 to $64.50 on a live basis.