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Evening markets: pigs start flu recovery

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Pigs began to gain investor reprieves on Wednesday after three days of swine flu rout, although near-term contracts failed to win grace from further losses.

Chicago's May hogs had lost a further 2.35 cents, or 3.7%, to 60.95 cents a pound by 16:30 GMT. The decline took the contract's losses since last Thursday, the last day before swine flu reports reached the market, to 12.4%.

However, helped by stronger external markets and a slowdown in negative swine flu newsflow, investors began to look to a market recovery further along the line, raising June hogs by 1 cent to 66.4 cents a pound and the July contract to 68.25 cents a pound.

It was the reverse for pork bellies, where investors fussed about mid-summer exposure. The May contract added 0.55 cents to 77.4 cents a pound taking it even with the July contract, which lost 0.8 cents. August pork bellies, meanwhile, added 0.5 cents to $76.95 cents a pound.

Nonetheless, the wreckage from the flu epidemic makes sorry reading. June hogs have lost 7.6% since Thursday night while the contract July has slipped 6.7%. In pork bellies, May has shed 5.9% and the July contract 7.8%.

Grains gain

Grains, meanwhile, continued to put further distance between themselves and Monday's slump, with soybeans perked up by an official report of a 100,000 order for 2009-10 beans to an unknown destination – generally assumed to be China.

That said, it was May soybeans which made the biggest splash - adding 17.5 cents to $10.07 a bushel - with new crop beans making smaller gains, a paradox some traders put down to unpredictable movements as investors shift positions ahead of the contract's expiry.

Corn was also back in favour, up 5.5 cents at 3.80 ¾ a bushel for May as fears waned further that swine flu would prompt a massive cull of animals, taking demand for livestock feed with it.

Wheat continued to be helped by backward plantings of the spring wheat crop, adding 5.75 cents to $5.16 ¼ a bushel for May, a trend mirrored across the Pond, with London May wheat adding £1.50 to £110.75 a tonne and Paris wheat up E1.25 at E140.50 a tonne.

'Healthy correction'

Earlier, palm also staged a rebound, with the benchmark July contract bouncing from one-week lows to close 24 ringgit higher at 2,480 ringgit a tonne.

"Perhaps we are getting back to our own fundamentals of higher demand and tight stocks. We had a healthy correction and now it's time to jump back in," a dealer told Reuters, the news agency.

Softs, meanwhile, remained near opening prices amid thin trade as investors awaited fresh news.

New York cocoa actually closed where it started, at $2,403 a tonne. Sugar for July ended 0.4% lower at 13.98 cents a pound, while coffee edged 0.1% higher to $116.40 a pound.

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