Concerns about seasonal weakness across the hog and pork complex caused CME lean hog futures to dive Thursday. Mid-December hog slaughter typically proves extremely large, whereas grocers routinely complete their ham purchases for the holiday season at about the same time. Those factors could undercut swine prices badly as a consequence, especially if pork loins follow their pattern of early-winter weakness from the past few years. The fact that hog and pork prices have risen dramatically from a late-summer low may also bode rather ill for early-winter pork demand. The expiring December contract fell 1.55 cents to 83.40 cents/pound during the morning hours, while the February future dropped 1.20 cents to 84.40 cents/pound.
Cotton futures reacted well to Thursday’s weekly export data, since both sales and shipments easily exceeded recent norms. Sales for the 2012/13 marketing year topped the average for the previous four weeks by 25%, while shipments jumped 76% above the four-week mean. Strong Chinese ladings of 108,700 running bales boosted the total substantially and probably encouraged the cotton market, since China now represents such a huge market. Prices surged in reaction to the news, but subsequently gave back a sizeable portion of the rise. March cotton ended the day 44 points higher at 73.48, while its July counterpart rose just 0.23 cents to 75.23 cents/pound.