U.S. livestock: Cattle gain on short-covering after six-year lows

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures rose more than one per cent on Friday, boosted by short-covering as traders took profits on bearish bets after prices fell to six-year lows in the previous session.

Feeder cattle also recouped a portion of their losses but gains in feeders were capped by sharply higher corn prices, which could raise costs for fattening cattle.

“It’s purely short-covering from a technical perspective,” said Global Commodities Analytics analyst Mike Zuzolo.

News that the CME Group was considering switching its live cattle contract to a cash settlement process to reduce volatility was also encouraging to some traders, Zuzolo said.

CME’s feeder cattle and lean hog futures markets already are cash-settled, and the exchange was reviewing the live cattle contract due to wild swings in prices in recent months, CME Group officials told Reuters on Thursday.

Live cattle fell to the lowest levels since August 2010 on Thursday, with those losses driven in part by a rising dollar that made U.S. commodities such as beef more expensive in some international markets.

“The (cattle) market had run down in lockstep with a strengthening dollar,” Zuzolo said.

The dollar trimmed its gains against a basket of currencies while cattle futures tested their lows, then reversed sharply higher.

Most-active CME December live cattle jumped 1.275 cents, to 97.45 cents/lb., notching its largest daily bounce in 1-1/2 weeks.

CME November feeder cattle climbed 0.825 cent, to 115.65 cents/lb., supported by technical buying despite corn futures hitting the highest levels since July. Feeder cattle and corn futures typically move in opposite directions.

Lean hog futures fell, reversing after several sessions of gains. Hog futures were rebounding from last week’s seven-year lows, but supplies of hogs and pork remained abundant.

CME December lean hog futures finished 1.95 cents lower at 42.225 cents/lb., still holding above last week’s lifetime low of 41.1.
“We have too much product out there,” John Ginzel, analyst at brokerage the Linn Group, said of U.S. pork supplies.

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

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