COMMODITIES : Pork Prices Sharply Higher

From Associated Press

Reduced numbers of hogs brought to slaughter drove pork futures prices sharply higher Monday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

On other markets, precious metals declined; wheat was a little higher but other grain and soybean futures retreated; oil futures were higher while gasoline was lower.

Hog runs over the weekend were smaller than expected and then Monday came in short, too, said Tom O'Hare, an analyst with the investment firm Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.

The kill on Monday was 255,000 head, while 280,000 was expected. This was 8% below the figure from a year earlier and continued the pattern of recent months.

Slaughters for last week were 6% below the comparable week of 1986 and during May there were 7% fewer hogs killed.

Also, O'Hare said, the cold storage report last week showed most pork products in tight supply.

Pork belly futures gained as much as the 2 cents-a-pound daily trading limit before the advance was trimmed.

"Summer is the biggest season (for pork bellies), and each week that goes by (with low kills) tightens the supplies," said O'Hare.

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