U.S. livestock: Cattle edge higher on technical buying, weather

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures edged higher on Friday, buoyed by technical buying and as wintry weather in the U.S. Plains hampered transportation of animals to market, traders and analysts said.

Heavy snowfall, rains and falling temperatures in much of the central U.S. stressed livestock, likely slowing weight gains in cattle. Beef packers lifted bids to buy cattle but trading in cash markets was slow.

“Live and feeder cattle traded higher from the harsh weather that pummels the Midwest,” CHS Hedging said in a market note.

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Most-active CME February live cattle settled up 0.225 cent at 124.175 cents/lb., finishing below Thursday’s life-of-contract highs of 124.9 cents (all figures US$).

CME January feeder cattle climbed to the highest since Nov. 26 before finishing up 0.075 cent at 149.075 cents.

“Feedlots continue to hold out for higher prices amid live cattle futures strength and rough weather conditions,” brokerage Brock + Associates said in a client note.

Lean hog futures were narrowly mixed as traders consolidated positions with 2018 drawing to a close. Hog futures have stayed above Wednesday’s six-week lows but struggled to bounce significantly from those lows in light trading.

February lean hog futures settled up 0.075 cent at 60.65 cents/lb. and April hogs down 0.175 cent at 66.5 cents.

Hogs in the top cash market of Iowa and southern Minnesota were 39 cents higher to an average price of $44.93/cwt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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