Price action: Lean hog futures closed slightly to moderately lower with the exception of the April contract, which closed 15 cents higher.
Fundamental analysis: Lean hog futures faced pressure from spillover in the equity markets and on profit-taking due to expectations of lower cash hog prices. Wholesale prices slipped this morning with the pork cutout down 48 cents; movement was decent at 177.61 loads. Packer cutout margins, however, dipped back into the red after moving above breakeven Wednesday. Packers are keeping kill hours reduced and will be unwilling to lift bids until margins improve.
Adding to today's negative tone was news from USDA weekly export pork sales totaled just 4,200 MT, which is a marketing year low. Estimated slaughter is pegged at 407,000 head, down slightly from last week's 409,000 head but higher than 399,000 head a year ago.
Technical analysis: June lean hog futures edged lower today but finished with some upside momentum, posting a midrange close. Futures continue to trade well beneath the 14-day moving average with resistance developing around the $122.50 area. Yesterday's low at $115.92 1/2 offers support. The winter uptrend line provides rising support at around $111.10 tomorrow.
Hedgers: 50% of expected 2nd-qtr. hog marketings and 50% of expected 3rd-qtr. Hog marketing are covered in $126.00 June lean hog put options for $3.90.
Feed needs: Carry all corn-for-feed and meal risk in the cash market for now.
Price action: Live cattle futures favored the downside for most of the session, but April futures staged a late rebound and ended 25 cents higher on the day, while deferreds posted slight losses. Most contracts ended high-range.
Fundamental analysis: Traders favored the downside today as they waited for cash cattle trade to get underway. Most expect lower trade relative to last week's $148 to $150 action, due to softer beef prices, heavier showlists and negative packer profit margins. However, a major decline is not expected. Bids are generally at $146 to $147, which is several dollars above the front-month. This lifted April live cattle ahead of the close.
Also helping futures to settle mid- to high-range is recent improvement in beef movement on mixed to lower prices. This signals prices are nearing value levels.
Technical analysis: June cattle futures continue to consolidate between this week's low and high of $134.35 and $135.90, respectively. An upside breakout would point the market toward a test of the $137.50 area, while a downside move would open up risk to the Feb. 24 low of $132.00.
Price action: Feeder cattle futures posted losses of 7 1/2 to 60 cents in most contracts today.
Fundamental analysis: Feeder cattle futures faced some mild profit-taking today after recent strong gains. Losses in the live cattle market added pressure. But despite today's losses, the uptrend remains intact, giving bulls the upper hand in the market.
Technical analysis: Uptrending support drawn off the lows since February intersects around $178.18 tomorrow for May feeder cattle futures. A move through this price would open up downside risk to the mid-March low of $175.70. Contract-high resistance remains at $180.60.
Hedgers: Fed cattle producers have 50% of 2nd-qtr. marketings hedged in April live cattle futures at $144.20.
Feed needs: Carry all corn-for-feed and meal risk in the cash market for now, but be prepared to extend coverage on a price break.