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Evening markets: hogs feel the heat

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Pigs took their turn feeling the heat from the outbreak of so-called swine flu, as easing fears over the broader impact of the disease helped crops rebound from earlier lows.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange's May lean hogs contract stood 3.0 cents lower –limit down - at 66 cents a pound exactly at 16:15 GMT, with the June contract also limit down at 68.65 cents a pound.

Pork bellies at least managed to crawl marginally above day lows, with the May contract down 2.85 cents at 80.95 cents a pound.

Monday represented the first day for investors to give their verdict on the impact of the swine flu outbreak, although some appear to have been prescient, traders said, to judge by a sharp fall off in hog prices late on Friday.

Cattle stand firm

Other commodities, however, rebounded from earlier lows. Feeder cattle for April were down 0.15 cents at 99.60 cents a pound, with some investors speculating that beef might gain from pork's loss. Feeder cattle were only 0.05 cents lower at 86.80 a pound.

While grains were still deeper in negative territory, they stood far above morning lows, helped out of their hole by oil. New York crude, at 1.8% down, and Brent, off 1.7%, had recovered about half their day's losses, with both reclaiming the $50 a barrel mark.

Soybeans, the worst hit in early deals for fear of the impact of swine flu on demand for animal feed, was 1.4% lower at $10.26 a bushel. Corn, used for biodiesel as well as feeding livestock, was 1.1% down at $3.72 ¾ a bushel.

Wheat was the biggest loser, off 2.1% at $5.21 a bushel, if 5.5 cents above its morning low.

Softs soft

The trend was reflected in Europe, where London wheat for May was down £1.25 at £109.25 a tonne and its Paris counterpart off E2.00 at E139.50 a tonne. May rapeseed was E4.00 lower at E296.50 a tonne.

And it was echoed in soft commodity prices too. Sugar, cocoa and coffee were all depressed in New York but well above day lows. Sugar, which gained some help from concerns over Indian supplies, was 1.1% down at 14.02 cents per pound.

Orange juice, meanwhile, staggered back into positive territory, up 0.35 cents at 85.25 cents per pound after diving to 83.45 cents a pound earlier.

Earlier, Bursa Malaysia's benchmark July palm oil contract closed at 2,481 ringgit a tonne, down 104 ringgit.

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