Lean hog futures traded sharply higher for the second straight day on strong demand tied to exports.
October hog futures rose to their three-cent one-day limit and settled at up 3.3%, to 93.37 cents a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME December hog futures rose 1.82 cents, or 2.1%, to 87.80 cents a pound.
October hog futures have rallied more than four and a half cents in the last two days as traders seized on signs that China could import more U.S. pork for weeks to come. Officials in Beijing on Thursday said the country would need to work very hard to meet its population's growing demand for corn, which is major source of feed for hogs.
China has been grappling with upward-spiralling food prices, most notably for pork, which are up 45% compared to a year ago.
The pork complex has grown extremely sensitive to signs of pork buying from China. That's because soaring exports have directly led to record prices for hogs and pork earlier this year, notably in July and August.
Cash hog bids were reported mostly steady as plants continued to buy supplies for next week's slaughter schedule, which is expected to be sharply higher than this week.
Total pork output is growing due to a seasonal expansion in supplies, more favorable hog-growing temperatures and the introduction of new-crop corn into feed rations. Average hog weights are moving up, as is typical for this time of the year.
The industry will likely slaughter about 125,000 head this Saturday and the week's total is expected to be about 2.24 million, or about 4.2% above a year ago. The industry could slaughter as many as 200,000 animals next Saturday.
The latest Dow Jones Newswires pork packer margin index was plus $10.54 per head, compared with plus $14.52 the previous day.
The terminal markets traded mostly steady on a live basis with tops ranging from $60 to $64.
The USDA's pork carcass composite value, a measure of wholesale prices, on Thursday rose 30 cents to $98.08 per hundred pounds.