U.S. livestock: Cattle futures mostly lower on technical selling

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. cattle futures were mostly lower on Tuesday while lean hogs pared gains late in the session, with each pressured in part by technical selling and profit-taking, traders and analysts said.

Some traders were liquidating positions in Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures ahead of a monthly U.S. Department of Agriculture supply report due on Friday.

Analysts polled by Reuters predicted a 0.1 per cent rise in cattle placed on feed during September and about 6.4 per cent more cattle in U.S. feedlots as of Oct. 1, indicating a larger supply available to beef packers.

Gains in cattle futures on Monday corresponded with a decline in open interest, CME Group data showed. That suggested traders were exiting short positions. Cattle futures on Tuesday hit upside resistance at several short-term moving averages before turning lower.

Most-active CME December live cattle settled 0.2 cent lower at 117.775 cents/lb. (all figures US$). February cattle edged up 0.125 cent, to 121.825 cents.

“Only February and April were able to close higher today, most likely as a result of vigorous spread liquidation,” cattle analyst David Hales said in his eponymous letter.

Cattle prices often track major stock indexes as better returns in financial markets can boost consumer confidence and result in more sales of pricier meat cuts like steaks and chops.

Cattle’s easing while stocks were sharply higher on Tuesday may be a buying opportunity for cattle, said Zaner Group chief agriculture market strategist Ted Seifried.

“Your December live cattle had the big outside reversal higher yesterday, which is a nice buy signal. We are not following through on it yet, but the chart looks pretty good in cattle to me,” Seifried said.

CME November feeder cattle were down one cent, to 154.225 cents/lb.

Feeder cattle prices were poorly established at a closely watched weekly cash auction in Oklahoma City, where heavy rainfall muddied feedlots.

“It’s hard to get cattle to market,” one analyst said.

CME December lean hogs finished 0.125 cent higher at 56.875 cents/lb., below their earlier one-week high of 58.325 cents as some traders locked in profits.

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

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