Lean hog futures turned higher Friday amid a firm cash outlook for next week and hopes for more export sales.
Cattle ended lower as investors felt this week's cash market had established a seasonal high and key chart support failed to turn prices higher all week.
April, the front-month hog contract at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, settled up 0.40 cents a pound, or 0.43% at 93.15 cents. Most-actively traded June was up 0.55 cent, or 0.55%, at $1.0065 a pound.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture crop production report early in the day showed no change in corn supplies at the end of the crop year and was disappointing to many commodity traders who had expected the USDA to show a decline. It sent corn and livestock futures tumbling for a while.
A rebound in corn futures helped to support lean hog futures since cash markets remain strong seasonally, said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities. The strongest season of the year for pork bellies is the summer when bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches are popular.
Lean hog futures also got support from some chart-oriented traders after Thursday's low failed to get below key tops going back into late January, said Tregg Cronin, market analyst at Country Hedging. Traders took the lead April contract up to the 10-day moving average where it encountered its own resistance.
Cash hog markets next week appear to be firm to slightly higher as barely adequate supplies have some packing plants looking for a few more hogs to fill out their slaughter schedules. Eastern Midwest hog supplies appear to be just a little tighter than those in western areas, said Tom Cawthorne, broker with R.J. O'Brien.
Wholesale pork prices were lower Friday for the second straight day, and traders hoped the combination of lower prices and a lower U.S. dollar would attract export buyers.