-Lean hog futures hit multi-week lows, pressured by concerns about sluggishness in near-term demand and selling by large investors.
In other markets, live cattle futures closed mixed and feeder cattle were lower.
At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, May hogs hit a five-week low and fell 2.02 cents, or 2.0%, to 98.62 cents a pound. June, the most active contract, hit a nearly six-week low and closed down 1.42c, or 1.4%, at 97.10 cents.
Normally, a seasonal rally occurs in pork prices from late April through early summer, driven in part by increased demand for grilling cuts and a reduction in slaughter-ready hog supplies, analysts said. However, in recent weeks, there's not been enough good weekend weather across the country to generate much backyard grilling, analysts said.
Another factor weighing on domestic pork demand is the high price of gasoline, which cuts into consumer spending for meats, said Don Roose, analyst with US Commodities.
Sputtering cash hog and wholesale pork prices in recent days have made large investors reconsider their positions, and some have elected to exit long contracts, weighing on futures prices, Roose said.
Key chart support levels, including moving averages and recent cycle lows were broken, triggering previously placed sell orders, sending prices even lower. Some traders, however, may be looking for signals of improved demand from either the domestic or international markets to buy futures following the recent steep slide, brokers said. The market rallied modestly off its lows, linked to short covering after the recent steep declines.
Squeezed processing margins caused packers to bid flat to lower for hogs Tuesday, which also added to the pressure in futures, a broker said. Some plants have further trimmed their slaughtering schedules due to slow demand and thin margins. A few plants need some additional hogs for later in the week but are bidding cautiously, according to livestock dealers and market managers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's pork carcass composite value Monday was down $0.51 per hundred pounds at $94.63.
The terminal markets traded flat to $0.50 per hundred pounds lower with tops at mostly $64 live basis.