Hogs Drop on Signs U.S. Pork Demand Will Ease; Cattle Gain

Hog futures fell for the first time in a week as U.S. jobs data signaled a fragile economic recovery, eroding prospects for pork demand. Cattle rose to the highest price since April.

Wholesale pork declined 0.8 percent to 96.59 cents a pound yesterday, the biggest drop in a week, and spot-market hog prices touched a three-week low, government data show. U.S. employers added 18,000 workers in June, the fewest in nine months, and the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 9.2 percent, Labor Department figures showed.

“The jobs report damped the outlook for economic recovery,” said Doug Houghton, an analyst at Brock Associates in Milwaukee. “If you look at the cash market, the packers have probably covered a good part of next week’s needs, and they’re still looking at weak margins.”

Hog futures for August settlement dropped 0.175 cent, or 0.2 percent, to 96.1 cents a pound at 10:33 a.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the first decline since June 30. Before today, the commodity rose 19 percent in the past 12 months.

Yesterday, the price of hogs for immediate delivery to slaughterhouses fell 2.3 percent to 92.49 cents a pound, the lowest since June 14, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

Cattle futures for August delivery rose 0.325 cent, or 0.3 percent, to $1.1505 a pound. Earlier, the price reached $1.1525, the highest for a most-active contract since April 25. Before today, the price gained 27 percent in the past year.

Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement rose 0.575 cent, or 0.4 perlcent, to $1.44475 a pound after climbing to a record $1.448.