U.S. livestock: Cattle futures close higher on strong export data

Chicago | Reuters – U.S. live cattle futures closed higher on Thursday for a third straight day, buoyed by strong weekly beef export sales and signs of firming cash cattle prices, traders said.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) August live cattle futures settled up 0.275 cent at 101.725 cents per pound while most-active October rose 0.700 cent to 106.750 cents a pound.

CME August feeder cattle futures ended up 1.050 cents at 143.025 cents per pound, and September feeders rose 1.850 cents to 144.425 cents per pound.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of U.S. 2020 beef in the week ended July 23 at 29,500 tonnes, a marketing year high that was up 81 percent from the prior four-week average.

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“The strong export report … was pretty good on both shipments and sales. Japan and South Korea are very active,” said Altin Kalo, economist with Steiner Consulting Group.

A weaker dollar has bolstered export demand for U.S. agricultural products. The greenback has been in a month-long nosedive as the continued spread of coronavirus across U.S. states weighs on the economy.

On the domestic front, market-ready cattle have traded lightly as high as $102 per cwt this week in the cash market, the USDA said, lending support to futures.

For hogs, CME lean hog futures closed lower, pressured by softening cash hog values and falling prices for pork products including hams. The USDA reported wholesale ham prices on Thursday afternoon at $55.11 per cwt, a drop from $68.62 on Monday.

“If there was one item that was strong, it was hams for July. But that … seems to have hit a wall,” Kalo said.

CME October lean hog futures settled down 1.500 cents at 48.325 cents per pound.

Traders shrugged off strong weekly pork export data. The USDA reported export sales of 2020 U.S. pork in the week to July 23 at 39,600 tonnes, up 12 percent from the prior four-week average. Sales to top global buyer China totaled 17,800 tonnes and pork shipments to China totaled 10,200 tonnes.

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