Hog futures extended a decline to a two-month low on concern that demand for U.S. ham is slowing. Cattle prices were little changed.
Traders are concerned that ham demand for the Easter holiday on March 31 is already filled, 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 fell 0.5 percent to 83.9 cents a pound at 10:08 a.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after reaching 83.575, the lowest for the most-active contract since Dec. 10.
U.S. stockpiles of hams totaled 81.9 million pounds (37,149 metric tons) as of Dec. 31, the highest for the date since at least 1957, and 47 percent higher than a year earlier, government data show.
Cattle futures for April delivery climbed 0.1 percent to $1.2985 a pound.
Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement rose 0.3 percent to $1.4315 a pound.
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