U.S. livestock: Cattle, hogs mostly higher on bargain-buying

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. livestock futures were mostly higher on Wednesday, with both cattle and hogs recovering from recent lows on bargain buying and positioning ahead of government supply data, traders and analysts said.

Most lean hog contracts jumped three per cent or more on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange after earlier notching lifetime lows. Most-active CME June hogs were up 2.6 cents, to 76.625 cents/lb., while front-month April hogs eased 0.825 cent, to 56.925 cents (all figures US$).

Hogs were down 84 cents to an average price of $49.06/cwt in the top cash market in Iowa and southern Minnesota, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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“It’s more of a technical play than anything else,” Steiner Consulting Group analyst Altin Kalo said of futures.

USDA is scheduled to release a quarterly hogs and pigs report on Thursday that is expected to show the U.S. herd at 72.902 million, or 3.1 per cent above a year ago.

Hog supplies are generally smaller during the summer months when warm weather slows the rate of animal weight gains while competition for supplies may be more intense after pork packers expanded slaughtering capacity.

“Historically, after Easter you tend to find a bottom,” Kalo said.

Trading in hog and cattle futures will be halted on the Good Friday holiday.

CME April live cattle was up 0.575 cent, to 116 cents/lb., and most-active June cattle was up 0.325 cent, to 105.575 cents.

CME March feeder cattle was up 0.55 cent, to 135.975 cents/lb., and April feeders up 2.475 cents, to 137.825 cents.

Cattle prices were supported partly by their discount to the cash market.

Slaughter-weight cattle in Kansas fetched $121/cwt, down about $5 from a week ago. Nebraska cattle traded at $120.50, down from deals last week of $125-$126, feedlot sources said.

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

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