Lean hog futures closed higher on speculation that domestic pork demand could improve after the Easter holiday.

May hogs gained 0.42 cent, or 0.4, to $1.0302 a pound. June, the most active contract, were up 0.75 cent, or 0.7%, at $1.0202.

The market rallied from mixed to mostly weaker early in the session to end higher as optimism arose for pork sales and cash market trends following the Easter holiday. Tighter supplies of slaughter-ready hogs combined with seasonal strength in pork demand were considered supportive. In addition, strength in beef prices could help pull up pork values, a broker said.

The period around Easter is normally a time when prices dip, said Steve Wagner, analyst with Country Hedging. With the observance of Easter being later this year, there is less time for meat buyers to wait before beginning to purchase meats for May features. In addition, pork exports remain strong and continue to provide support for futures.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's pork carcass composite value Monday slipped $0.11 per hundred pounds to $96.46 but prices remain near the all-time high of $96.74 hit on Aug. 24, 2010.

Cash hog prices Tuesday were expected to be flat to weak in some locations earlier in the day but midday reports showed prices mostly unchanged overall. The weighted average price in the western corn belt was higher, but volume of reported trades was light.

The terminal markets traded mostly flat with one location off $0.50. Top prices ranged from $63 to $64 on a live basis.