Commodities : Fewer Hogs Boosts Futures

From Associated Press

Reduced hog supplies lifted pork futures prices Thursday, with some pork belly contracts advancing the daily limit and reaching contract highs on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

On other markets, oil touched $20 a barrel but retreated before the close, grain and soybeans were mostly lower and precious metal futures advanced.

The July and August pork belly deliveries settled 2 cents a pound higher, the limit for daily trading. Bellies overall rose 1.60 cents to 2 cents, with July closing at 77.02 cents a pound.

"There continue to be no hogs and the kills will be declining through the end of June," William J. Arndt, an analyst in Chicago with Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., said in reference to hog supplies.

"If there are no hogs, there are no bellies," said Arndt. And this week, for the first time this season, frozen bellies were being taken out of storage.

Hog runs have been substantially below year-ago levels in recent weeks, and futures have repeatedly set new contract highs as they did again Thursday.

Prices could continue to go higher in the coming weeks, Arndt said, because of the limited number of market-ready animals.

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