U.S. lean hog futures were mostly about 2 percent lower on Thursday, easing on technical selling and investment fund liquidation, traders and analysts said.
Hog futures fell sharply to their session lows at 10:10 a.m. CDT (1610 GMT) in what two traders called a "flash crash," before prices recouped a portion of their losses.
"We saw the market dip $2 (per cwt) in a matter of seconds," said Top Third Ag Marketing broker Craig VanDyke, adding that the move likely was tied to automated selling.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange July hogs fell 0.525 cents to 82.050 cents per pound, settling above the contract's session low of 80.725 cents. August hogs dropped 1.475 cents to 78.925 cents.
U.S. Department of Agriculture data showing a downturn in U.S. weekly pork export sales were seen as bearish but prices for cash hogs and wholesale pork have been trending higher, buoying futures.
USDA after the close of trading said hogs in the top cash markets of Iowa and southern Minnesota were up $1.03 to $81.58 per cwt.
CME live cattle and feeder cattle futures each fell to the lowest levels in weeks before rebounding. Cattle breached support of several moving averages amid lower prices for cash cattle and declines in beef.
"It's hard to be long when you are waking up to negative news every day," said Kevin Bost, president of Procurement Strategies Inc. "I think you have about five or six weeks of falling beef prices and falling cattle prices."
Small numbers of cash cattle fetched $130 to $134 per cwt in the U.S. Plains this week, down as much as $7 from a week ago, feedlot sources said.
Cattle and beef often ease in the hottest months of the summer, when consumers cook fewer pricey beef cuts such as roasts, choosing cheaper options such as burgers.
However, the losses in futures may have been too great, prompting bargain buying.
Most-active CME August live cattle eased 0.375 cent to 117.500 cents per pound while front-month June cattle eased 2.000 cents to 122.500 cents.
CME August feeder cattle climbed 0.950 cent to 147.075 cents per pound, recovering after earlier sliding to the lowest levels since May 11.