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Lean hogs advance after strong US pork export data - CME

Lean hog futures rose on Thursday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) on robust US pork export demand and follow-through buying from a rally during the previous session, Reuters reported, citing analysts.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported pork export sales for the current marketing year reached 71,855 metric tons in the week ended Feb. 8, up 106% from the prior four-week average amid large purchases by Mexico and China.

The weekly sales were the biggest since 2019 for a current marketing year, according to government data.

Actual shipments of pork were 75,912 metric tons last week, up 131% from the prior four-week average, USDA data show. That was the biggest weekly export figure on record, aside from weeks when USDA reported consolidated data from several weeks, according to Steiner Consulting Group.

Analysts wondered whether missing data from previous weeks may have boosted the latest data due to the large increases.

"Regardless, the reality is that this was a big export week and as such needs to be accounted for," Steiner Consulting Group said.

Most-active CME April lean hogs settled up 0.475 cents at 85 cents per pound and reached its highest price since hitting a four-month high on Jan. 30. The market also advanced on Wednesday, and April hogs are now up 13% so far this year.

The USDA, at an annual outlook forum, predicted US pork exports in 2024 will increase about 4% to 7.08 billion pounds. US pork production for 2024 is projected at 27.88 billion pounds, about 2% higher than 2023.

The USDA said separately that meatpackers slaughtered an estimated 489,000 hogs on Thursday, compared to 491,000 hogs a week ago and 472,257 hogs a year ago. Packers also slaughtered an estimated 123,000 cattle, down from 125,000 cattle a week ago and 123,734 cattle a year ago.

April live cattle futures closed up 1.6 cents at 185.600 cents per pound. March feeder cattle rose 0.875 cent to 247.100 cents per pound.

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