Hogs Decline on Speculation Ham Demand Slowing; Cattle Gain

Hog futures extended a decline to a two-month low on concern that demand for U.S. ham is slowing. Cattle prices rose.

Ham demand for the Easter holiday on March 31 may have peaked, said Lou Arens, a broker at PCI Advisory Services. Retailers typically stock up on the meat before the holiday. Wholesale ham fell 13 percent to 61.12 cents a pound on Feb. 13, the biggest decline since October 2010, government data show. Prices rose 2.7 percent yesterday.

“Everybody is kind of confused about where the demand is, or if the Easter hams are bought or in the freezer,” Arens said in a telephone interview from Waucoma, Iowa.

Hog futures for April settlement declined 0.1 percent to close at 84.25 cents a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after reaching 83.575 cents, the lowest for the most-active contract since Dec. 10. Prices lost 2.2 percent this week, the third straight drop and the longest slump since May.

U.S. stockpiles of hams totaled 81.9 million pounds (37,149 metric tons) as of Dec. 31, the most for the date since at least 1957, and 47 percent higher than a year earlier, government data show.

Cattle futures for April delivery climbed 0.5 percent to settle at $1.3045 a pound, boosting prices 0.2 percent for the week.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement rose 0.5 percent to close at $1.43375 a pound.

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