Widespread expectations for a substantial seasonal rally through January and early February had boosted the hog and pork complex recently. However, those hopes were substantially diminished by market developments early this week, with mixed country prices and a sizeable Tuesday drop in pork cutout doing the bulk of the damage. CME futures obviously suffered the brunt of the reduced optimism Wednesday, with most contracts losing two cents or more by the early-afternoon close. Futures proved rather mixed in Wednesday-night action, thereby reflecting the conflicting results of late-afternoon cash and wholesale reports. The nearby February remained above recent support at the mid-week close, but the breakdown pushed the spring and summer contracts to three-month lows. Those seemingly bode ill for the intermediate-term outlook. February hogs climbed 0.30 cents to 84.50 cents/pound in pre-dawn trading, while June futures slid 0.02 cents to 96.17.
Cotton futures may have benefited from the bullish leadership provided by the grain markets Thursday morning, but the latest Chinese data may also have played a significant role in the rise. That is, an overnight report indicated the Asian giant posted strong exports in December, which traders hope indicates that the Chinese and global economies are continuing their long recovery. Given the strong ties between economic growth and world cotton demand, few could have been surprised by the favorable futures reaction. Whether that strength can be sustained through the Friday release of USDA data remains to be seen, especially since the weekly Export Sales reports will be released later this morning. March cotton advanced 0.36 cents to 75.15 cents/pound in early-morning action, while December gained 0.18 cents to 78.60.