Lean hog futures closed mixed with spot April up on support from expectations of higher cash prices and tighter supplies of slaughter-ready hog supplies next week while profit taking and spread trading weighed on the summer months.
Most contracts hit new all-time highs in overnight trading, extending Thursday's gains, before selling off as some long-position holders banked profits made in the recent sharp run-up. Surging corn prices provided underlying support throughout the day, brokers and analysts said.
April lean hogs hit a 6 1/2-week high and closed up 0.50 cent, or 0.5%, at 94.22 cents a pound, highest since Feb. 10. June, the most-active contract, fell 0.30 cent, or 0.3% to $1.0357, following its new high hit in electronic trading at $1.0435.
Weaker closes in June and July reflect the sizable premiums that were built into those contracts during the latest rally, said Dan Vaught, president of Vaught Futures Insights. The fall and winter hog months rallied to close flat to higher due to further strength in corn prices, he said.
Sharp gains in corn prices the past two days may make hog producers abandon any notions they may have had expanding their breeding herds, a broker said. Two-day advances in corn prices amount to an average of about 70 cents a bushel in the Chicago Board of Trade's May and July contracts at well above $7 a bushel, and gains around 55c a bushel in September corn, putting that month around $6.80.
Some spread traders sold June and simultaneously bought December, which weighed on the early summer contract.
In the cash markets, pork processors were bidding mostly higher prices for hogs to be delivered next week. The full range of bids was from flat to as much as $2 per hundredweight higher, said livestock dealers and market managers. Some plants need additional loads to fill Monday's slaughter schedules. Inventories and forward bookings have tightened in recent weeks so some plants are now looking for hogs to arrive within the next 1-2 business days, dealers said. Seasonally smaller supplies and improving demand for pork grilling cuts are supportive for cash prices as well.
Wholesale pork prices Thursday climbed $0.61 per hundred pounds to $95.39, a fresh seven-month high. The pork carcass composite value is approaching the all-time high of $96.74 hit on Aug. 24, 2010.