Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures climbed on Monday in response to higher cash cattle prices late last week and rising beef prices, traders said.
Supplies of cattle remain large, but demand for market-ready stock is likely to remain strong due to profitable packer margins and milder weather around the U.S. that should allow for more outdoor grilling, they said.
CME April live cattle closed 2.375 cents/lb. higher at 121.725 cents and actively-traded June ended up 1.15 cents at 104.875 cents (all figures US$).
“We still have a lot of cattle on the market-ready supply. But right now the feedlots seem to have regained control in the cash markets,” said Brock Associates analyst Doug Houghton.
Cash cattle in the central and southern U.S. Plains traded at higher prices on Friday from $119 to $124/cwt, and cash sales were expected to be at least steady this week as packers appear poised to take advantage of rising beef prices and profitable margins.
Packer margins were estimated at $44.60 per head on Monday, down from $75.80 a week ago, according to livestock marketing advisory service HedgersEdge.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture quoted the choice boxed beef cutout on Monday at $215.11/cwt, up $3.13 from Friday, and the select cutout at $201.72, up $1.59.
Feeder cattle futures followed live cattle higher, with the April contract up 1.725 cents/lb. to 139.025 cents and May up 1.275 at 140.6 cents.
Lean hog futures fell on technical selling and on weakening pork prices and narrowing packer margins.
The pork carcass cutout value eased for a third straight day on Monday and packer margins have declined by nearly half over the past week.
May hogs closed down 1.95 cents/lb. at 68 cents. Most actively traded June dropped 1.175 to 76.375 cents, with selling accelerating as the contract fell below its 10- and 40-day moving averages.
After the close, USDA said stocks of frozen pork in cold storage in March were up slightly from the prior month and up 12 per cent from a year earlier. Stocks of pork bellies were up 21 per cent from a month earlier and nearly three times as large as a year ago.
— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and agribusiness for Reuters from Chicago.