US hog futures decline again after uncertain US-China trade talks

CME hog futures fell their daily limit on Monday (7 October), declining for a fifth straight session as an aggressive slaughter pace and uncertainty about this week's US trade talks with China overshadowed rising pork cut-out values.

The selloff came as US and Chinese deputy trade negotiators launched a new round of talks aimed at resolving the two nations' 15-month trade war, with neither side showing any signs of giving ground.

The White House confirmed that the high-level talks, involving Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would begin on Thursday.

Livestock traders seemed sceptical about prospects for a deal that could bolster US pork sales to China, the world's top consumer.

"It seems we get to this (point) each time, where the Chinese want to try to narrow the scope as far as different restrictions and policies, and the US wants the scope to be wider. We can't tell if we are going in a positive or negative direction," Roose said.

Also bearish was the US hog slaughter last week, which the US Department of Agriculture reported at 2.669 million head, up from 2.5 million a year earlier.

"It's just large numbers of hogs coming at us," Roose said.

CME December lean hog futures settled down their daily 3-cent limit at 64.25 cents per pound. Limits for Tuesday's trade will expand to 4.5 cents per pound, the CME Group said.

Chart-based selling accelerated as the December hog contract fell below its 20 September low of 64.950 cents per pound and slipped into a gap on the contract's chart dating to 13 September.

"We left gaps in the market which technical traders are shooting for," Roose said.

Nonetheless, market bulls noted that the US pork cutout rose $2.58 on Monday, and cash hog prices in the closely watched Iowa and southern Minnesota market rose $0.34.