U.S. livestock: Cattle, hogs about flat in technical trading

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle and hog futures were little changed on Thursday in technically driven trade amid a lack of fresh fundamental news following a pause in trading on Wednesday’s U.S. Independence Day holiday.

Most active live cattle futures finished narrowly mixed as traders awaited deals in U.S. Plains cash cattle markets. A weekly online cash cattle auction, usually held on Wednesdays, was postponed until next week, according to an employee of the Fed Cattle Exchange.

CME August live cattle edged 0.075 cent lower, to 106.375 cents/lb. and October live cattle was up 0.025 cent, to 110.125 cents (all figures US$).

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CME August feeder cattle touched a roughly four-month high, before settling 0.225 cent lower to 152.575 cents/lb. as some traders took profits after four straight sessions of higher prices.

CME August lean hogs similarly were about flat, finishing up 0.05 cent at 76.05 cents/lb.

The Independence Day holiday typically is a boon for retail sales of beef, pork and poultry as consumers cook meat on outdoor grills. Livestock traders were looking for clues as to how strong demand was over the holiday.

Wholesale pork prices were up 49 cents, to $86.29/cwt, boosted in part by higher prices for pork bellies that climbed $1.73, to $166.68/cwt, on Thursday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Prices for many pork cuts have declined in recent days but pork bellies used to make bacon were the highest in nearly a year.

“The only thing holding up the pork cutout is the bellies,” said independent livestock trader Dan Norcini.

Choice-grade wholesale beef fell $1.83, to $208.43/cwt, according to USDA.

China on Friday was expected to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods including beef and pork but the punitive measures on imports have been anticipated for weeks.

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

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