U.S. live cattle futures rise on cash optimism

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) live cattle futures finished steady to firm on Tuesday on short-covering in anticipation of steady-to-higher cash cattle prices, said traders and analysts.

Higher wholesale beef prices on Tuesday and technical buying also supported cattle.

CME live cattle and hog futures were briefly lower, as was Wall Street, following a false tweet of an explosion at the White House, but cattle and hogs quickly recovered as Wall Street snapped back from an abrupt fall.

“The problem is there is too much of this aggressive algorithm-type trading. A lot of people wait to see what’s going on while they shoot first and ask questions later,” said U.S. Commodities analyst Don Roose.

“It took the winds out of the sails when you see other outside markets moving. It causes an attitude of caution and then everyone reassess again,” he said.

Spot April live cattle closed up 0.225 cent per pound to 126.2 cents. It settled between the 10-day moving average support of 125.87 cents and 20-day resistance at 126.57 cents (all figures US$).

Most-actively traded June ended unchanged at 120.825 cents, closing just above the 10-day moving average of 120.78 cents.

Investors foresee cash cattle prices meeting or beating last week’s $126 per hundredweight (cwt) trades.

“As long as the cutout holds together, with a break soon in weather for grilling, we have a good shot at a better cash trade,” a trader said.

But more cattle available for sale this week and poor packer margins are challenges for the cash market, he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday quoted the average wholesale choice beef price at $191.41/cwt, up 63 cents from Monday. Select cuts were up 11 cents to $183.78.

U.S. beef packer margins on Tuesday were estimated at a negative $41.55 per head versus a negative $31.30 on Monday and a negative $50.50 a week ago, according to HedgersEdge.com.

Modest live cattle market advances and lower corn prices drove most CME feeder cattle futures up sharply.

Spot April feeders, which will expire on Thursday, settled up 0.125 cent/lb. to 133.75 cents.

Most-actively traded May closed at 139.6 cents, one cent higher. August finished 2.15 cents higher at 148.125 cents.

Hogs up with pork prices

Higher wholesale pork prices helped CME hogs bounce back from Monday’s losses, analysts and traders said.

Grocers appear to be purchasing more meat in perpetration for spring grilling demand, which motivated futures buyers, a trader said.

Anticipation of seasonally tight hog supplies should soon help push up cash hog prices, he said.

The stock market’s recovery helped, said independent CME hog trader Bill Cipolla. “Even if it’s psychological, it lifts everything,” he said.

Government data on Tuesday showed the average hog price in the Iowa/Minnesota market at $79.93/cwt, down 33 cents from Monday.

Tuesday’s USDA mandatory wholesale pork price, calculated on a plant-delivered basis, was at $86.41/cwt, up 97 cents from Monday.

CME June hogs settled up 0.125 cent to 89.575 cents/lb., ending below the 10-day moving average of 89.67 cents.

July finished at 90.025 cents, 0.4 cent higher. It closed between 10-day moving average support of 89.83 cents and below the 20-day moving average at 90.43 cents.

— Theopolis Waters writes for Reuters from Chicago.

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